Distribution of Condoms in Public High Schools

Coinciding with the onslaught of the new millennium, schools are beginning to realize that the parents are not doing their job when it comes to sexual education. The school system already has classes on sexual education; these classes are based mainly on human anatomy. Most schools do not teach their students about relationships, morals, respect, self-discipline, self-respect, and most importantly contraceptives. Everyday students engage in sexual activity, many of them with out condoms. This simple act jeopardizes these students’ futures and possibly their lives. An increasing amount of school systems are starting to combine messages involving abstinence from sexual activity, and expanding availability of contraceptives, especially condoms. Schools are now stepping in to further equip their students for life. The distribution of condoms in public high schools will lower the rate of pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers.

About one million teenagers become pregnant each year in the United States. There are more then 16,000 pregnancies in the State of Maryland alone. Ninety five percent of these pregnancies are unintended, and nearly one third of them will end in abortion or miscarriage. Miscarriages are caused by of lack of medical attention. According to a report by the general Accounting Office, teen mothers and their children cost the United States 34 billion dollars a year (J.A.N., page 1)

Eighty percent of teen mothers end up in poverty for long periods of time due to the fact that they never finished high school. They become financially dependent on programs such as Welfare and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children). Welfare provides money and food stamps for low-income families. WIC provides milk, cheese, eggs, cereals, fruit juices, dried beans or peas, peanut butter and infant formula for all participants. WIC also provides nutritional education and health care referrals at no cost. Programs such as these help millions of families every year.

Among all age groups, teenagers have the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases. Every year one in four teens that have had sex contract a sexually transmitted disease. Common diseases among teens are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women. "The only risk factor found for chlamydia infection was being a teenager" (John Hopkins researchers). Students that are sexually active need to have access to condoms to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases. Teens have problems with birth control for several reasons, and because of this lack of birth control teens are more susceptible to pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The problem with birth control today is obtaining it in the first place. For most teens getting birth control is an intimidating experience. Girls must have a complete gynecological exam, which most have never had. Girls must also speak with a doctor about wanting birth control. "Even if it\'s only a male going to the store to get condoms he has to put up with comments like, \'I\'ll have to charge you an entertainment tax.\' A female goes in and she hears, \'Hey honey, you\'re not the one whose supposed to be buying these.\' She gets embarrassed" (health clinic worker). When free condoms are offered to students, they are less embarrassed to receive them. Students with condoms are more likely to use them during sexual activity.

Experts say the lack of knowledge on how to use a condom correctly and the lack of motivation to use a condom every time means that condoms fail more often. This could result in pregnancy or the contraction of STD\'s. Teenagers reuse condoms or they use it with a petroleum-based lubricant which can dissolve the condom\'s latex. Birth control products are only effective if used properly. Rates of failure for condoms are between 2 percent and 14 percent. Inexperienced users make up a larger percentage of failure rates because of improper use. This failure rate is also due to inconsistent use among teenagers. With the proper knowledge and training students can effectively use a condom to protect themselves.

Today’s sex education programs are failing to meet the needs of sexually active teens. “Any sex education program is doomed to fail” (Kevin Ryan, page 1). Schools should start their sex education program early even in kindergarten and provide a realistic course of instruction (Kevin Ryan, page 1). Children that are given