Condoms In Schools Do Not Solve Teen Problems
Because of the rise of AIDS among teens, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and teen pregnancy in today’s society, schools have begun to issue condoms to students who are sexually active or who are desiring to become sexually active. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "more than a million American teens become pregnant each year." Even though schools have good intentions, the questions is, "does this solve the nation problems with American teens?" "Are schools overstepping their boundaries?"
A recent study done in New York’s and Chicago’s public schools, showed that [if students can easily access condoms, it increases condom usage among those who are sexually active.]1 The study began five years ago, its goal was to lower the incidents of AIDS among high schools students. Many involved with the study, believed that this study was not long enough to prove that students will not be pressured into becoming sexually active as a result of increased condom availability. Therefore, representatives of the study are asking, along with the Board of Education, to continue to supply funds to the programs.
During the 1980s, Urban Institute researchers at the University of Illinois found that, [efforts have increased to alert the public to the dangers of HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy, yet these problems have increased.]2 Adolescents and young adults have been especially hit hard. In addition, [among all sexually active people, teenagers have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases of any age group.]2
Faced with the magnitude of these problems, our nation through its educational institutions has responded during different eras with prevention programs. For instance, in the early 1900s at the rise of venereal disease (VD), some schools implemented VD education. During the 1970s schools developed programs to address adolescent sexuality. However, when AIDS became a prominent problem in the latter part of the 1980s, schools responded more dramatically. [AIDS affected the willingness of some schools to cover certain topics, as well as the overall design of some programs.]3 According to a national study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute in 1988, [about 85 percent of all schools offered sexuality education, between 85 and 100 percent included instruction on abstinence, contraception, pregnancy, STDs, and HIV/AIDS.]4
Studies based upon National Surveys measuring the relationship between sex education topics and the initiation of intercourse produced some seemingly interesting results. [These studies suggest that the impact of instruction might vary with the topics covered and with the age of the students.]3 Instructions on resistance skills may delay the initiation of intercourse and possibly reduce the number of partners and the number of acts of intercourse. However, instruction about contraception alone may hasten the onset of intercourse among younger teens.
Although making condoms available in schools remains very controversial, [65 percent of the American adult population supports condom availability in schools.]3 More than 400 schools nationwide now have similar programs, which public health reports call a "low-cost, harmless addition" to classroom HIV prevention. [These programs are designed to help individuals already risking their lives through unsafe behavior.]3
According to the Family Planing Counsel (FPC), "last December the question of whether or not to make condoms available at high schools became a hot controversy in Massachusetts." The State Department of Education asked school officials "to consider dispensing condoms, whether by vending machine, in-school clinics, or both." Some Massachusetts community members petitioned to rescind the approval. In fact, strong reaction on both sides from some parents, teachers, and clergy made this issue a moral dilemma: "does condom distribution in high schools push the limits of sexuality education?" In March, the Springfield, MA Mayor cast the deciding vote opposing condom distributions in city high schools. Opponents cited fears of encouraging sexual behavior and sending mixed messages to the teen population. The FPC recognizes that "abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and of avoiding unplanned pregnancies." Therefore, the FPC [is in favor of adolescents being educated concerning the value of remaining abstinent.]5
In conclusion, research conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, New York and Chicago public schools, the Urban Institute, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, and the Family Planning Council, demonstrates that not all school-based sex and AIDS education programs are effective. [Clearly, school-based sexuality education programs do not represent a total solution to the problems of unprotected intercourse. To provide an effective overall strategy to reduce these problems, families, communities, churches, and the power of the media must all be involved.]5