ENCORE: Patch Poll - Should Condoms be Made Available to Students in School?

One Massachusetts school district just took a step toward making condoms accessible to students as young as 12 years old. Should schools be providing protection?

We're running an encore of this week's Patch Poll regarding whether or not schools should be providing condoms for sexually-active students. Take a minute to weigh-in with your comments in the space provided at the bottom of this article.

Officials in one Massachusetts school district recently voted in favor of a policy that would allow students as young as age 12 access to condoms from a school nurse. 

The Springfield School Committee in Springfield, Mass., voted unanimously last week in favor of a health program aimed at promoting "safe sex, preventing sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy."

What do you think? Should condoms be available in schools? Why or why not?

The program would mean condoms would be available to students as young as 12 years old. Distributed by a school nurse, students who requested the contraceptive would also be counseled on proper use and storage of the prophyllactic, as well as abstinence.

The proposal still has some way to go before being implemented in the Springfield, Mass. school system but overall, district officials seem to be in favor of it.

What do you think? Should condoms be available in schools? Why or why not?

Deb Belt (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Students would be counseled on abstinence, but parents would not be notified it seems. That's where I think this idea likely loses support.
Oneota March 19, 2012 at 02:44 PM
If the students knew that their parents would be notified, they wouldn't talk to the nurse, and they wouldn't get the contraception. But they'd still probably have the sex. So...overall, it's a net win for the child's sake that the parents not be notified.
Jessica Miller March 19, 2012 at 02:51 PM
There is no age restriction on buying condoms right?
Jody Gifford (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Jessica, I don't think there's an age to buy condoms but there is such a thing as "age of consent." In Iowa, it's 14 for boys and 16 for girls. I'd be concerned that an underage child would be given condoms thus making it seem ok for them to have sex.
Alison Gowans March 19, 2012 at 03:18 PM
If students are choosing to have sex, they are going to do so whether condoms are available or not. Anything that will increase their likelihood of protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STIs is a good thing in my book.
Jessica Miller March 19, 2012 at 03:18 PM
So technically a person of any age can walk into a store and buy a condom if they want to?
Jessica Miller March 19, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Why is the age of consent different for boys/girls ?
Jody Gifford (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Good question. I don't have that answer. It's not like that in every state. http://www.avert.org/age-of-consent.htm
CFBusinessOwner March 19, 2012 at 03:37 PM
As sad as I am to know that kids as young as 12 are having sex, I think it is important that they protect themselves from STDs, pregnancy,etc. I think this school district is just acknowledging what parents of teens already know: kids as young as 6th grade are choosing to have sex( yes, even in the Cedar Valley)---which is not surprising in the current state of media where all-things-sexual are displayed 24/7 within eyesight of children...
Stephen Schmidt March 19, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Basically what these arguments always boil down to is both sides (abstinence versus safe sex) want to develop a culture starting with kids at a certain age that will determine how they will act as they get older. I don't feel that their goals are mutually exclusive, abstinence is still the best form of birth control, but for those kids who have sex they should be encouraged to use protection. Making condoms readily available is a way to do that.
Anne Carothers-Kay March 19, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Realistically, what is the likelihood that a teenager is going to talk to a school nurse about having sex; or getting a condom? It seems to me that if they really think this is going to make a difference, they out to pass them out in Health class when they cover the topic.
Benjamin B. March 19, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I believe that better safe than sorry is a good theory, but still should be at that young of age. Pregnancy and std's can can still happen even when people practice safe sex. I think sex education is important, but they need to focus more on what kind of a toll it can take on the body, as well as health risk/factors for young teenagers, as well as infants born. Condoms at the age of 12 is to young....
Benjamin B. March 19, 2012 at 08:13 PM
*still shouldn't be at that young of age....
Joanna Dawson March 19, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Hello! I'm a health educator in the community and am fortunate enough to provide comprehensive sexuality education. To me this is an easy answer: providing education, awareness and access saves lives (STI prevention), prevents unintentional pregnancies, and helps young people to grow into the type of adult they can be proud of being (ie, responsible). No comprehensive, evidence-based program would approach condom education or sexuality in general without an age-appropriate focus. 12 may seem like a young age - but increasingly youth are engaging in sexual activity at earlier and earlier ages and while adults may not condone those actions, we cannot stand idly by with our heads in the sand. Making a blanket statement that 12-year-olds should not be allowed to access condoms cuts off those who may be in need, and it does not address the fact that if they are looking for a condom they are well on their way to making the decision to engage in sexual contact. What I appreciate about the community in Massachusetts, is that youth are aware condoms exist, and if they want them - they are therefore in need and receive direct 1-1 education on the spot. This issue is not about should education be provided in the school or at home - it should be in both! Overwhelmingly the evidence shows young people want to learn from their parents, but if that's not possible then the school community can be backup/reinforcing.
Joanna Dawson March 19, 2012 at 09:04 PM
There is no age restriction on purchasing condoms, although some areas stores may discourage young people by asking for their ID. FYI the age of consent in Iowa (full consent) is 16, however for 14/15 there is some wiggle room (within 4 years). Section 709.4 states: A person commits sexual abuse in the third degree when the person performs a sex act under any of the following circumstances... 2(c) The other person is fourteen or fifteen years of age and any of the following are true...(4) The person is four or more years older than the other person
Kurt B. March 20, 2012 at 12:19 PM
It's one of those situations of "where do you draw the line" ? Will it be 10 year-olds next ? 8 year olds? And, of course, the question of who is paying for this needs to be answered. To put this on the taxpayers is not right. And, if they decide they are going to drink out in the parking lot during breaks, do we provide the small bottles of whatever for them ? Like I said..... what is next ?
Jack F March 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM
So taxpayers to schools get to pay for the condoms that they can get down the street for free at planned ph???? By the lame rationale that I have read here we should go ahead and hand out beer at the HS because they are going to drink anyway. Better yet, all parents should hold a DRINK RESPONSIBLE AND SAFE SEX PARTIES on weekends. Keep the kids keys and make them stay over. Make sure they have stopped at the nurse to get a condom just in case and be safe above all else. What ever happened to parents just saying NO and school boards are not the parents. It is hard to have sex if parents monitor their kids and not leave them unsupervised while at home with their boyfriends / girlfriends. Besides, they get hot and heavy they arent going to stop so they can wait to get a condom at school. This just promotes a lifestyle by our liberal school system that makes kids feel it is ok because they could get protection at school. I cant even believe the ANKENY patch put this out there. Ankeny is not the inner city. However, our school board might like the idea because they are so out of tune with the general public.
David Leonard March 20, 2012 at 01:37 PM
If Waukee High School is going to continue to allow grinding at dances, perhaps the school nurse's office should be open during dances and condoms should be available for those who request them.
Stephen Schmidt March 20, 2012 at 03:05 PM
How many condoms do you think these schools are buying, Jack F? I'm guessing it's much less than $1,000 a year out of a multimillion school operation budget. I know you're objecting more on the spirit of it, but as far as actual cost to the tax payer, that's pretty cheap if it prevents an unwanted pregnancy.
Stephen Schmidt March 20, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Stephen Schmidt March 20, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I understand your drinking analogy but I don't think it's quite the same. Just because you provide a condom to a student doesn't mean they automatically are going to have sex, as I can readily attest to as a former unpopular, awkward, nerdy (you get the picture) high school student. I would more compare it to taking the keys away from a teen who is already drinking so they don't then go and ruin their lives by doing something stupid. You aren't providing the means for the misbehavior, you're protecting the kids from themselves. And yes, I know that should be the main job of parents, but why not provide some additional support? There was a teen from my hometown of Solon (hardly an urban area) who got pregnant and ended up in denial because she apparently didn't feel like she could tell her parents about it. Well this ended up with her panicking and throwing her baby down a garbage chute, and with her in jail in Florida. Would condoms or outside counselling have prevented this? Maybe, maybe not. But how can it hurt to provide kids with additional resources in a pretty confusing time in their lives? But I'd be interested to hear more about why you feel tax payers shouldn't pay for this, as I think that's an interesting conversation to have.
Kurt B. March 20, 2012 at 11:24 PM
To Jody : lots of good comments on here and some real odd ones. It still seems odd that we would be proposing to give kids something free for doing something they shouldn't be doing. In this case, condoms. Do we also propose to supply the cinnamon for those who want to do that ? No. It might help if some of the writers here were to volunteer one weekend to cleanup the h.s. parking lot. Our group did that a few years ago and saw everything imaginable in the parking lot. Lots of fast food wrappers, of course, but also way too many cigarettes, condoms, misc clothing articles, a wallet , crushed cell phones. vodka containers of about 3 or 4 different sizes........
Jules Walker April 09, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Yes, definitely. You cant stop them from having sex, but you can make it a little easier for them to prevent STD's and teenage pregnancies. Sex is so popular everywhere that it's sending the wrong signal to our youth.
Matthew Georges July 05, 2012 at 07:03 AM
I am sure there are PLENTY of organizations that would donate said condoms.


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