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Palm Coast Thursday, Apr. 14, 2011 8 years ago

Sex ed, yes. Condoms at school, no.

by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

In an ideal world, parents would always be the means of providing adolescents with individualized, age-appropriate sex education (the letter, “Leave sex education to parents in Flagler,” makes many good points).

But a 2009 study from the journal, Pediatrics, showed that about 40% of adolescents had not had “the talk” with their parents before the adolescents had sex for the first time.

Considering the societal impact of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases that are naturally more prevalent when kids don’t know the consequences of unprotected sex, if parents aren’t teaching them, schools should.

The kids have to be taught. Parents should have the ability to have their children opt out — they know best — but it’s time to move beyond abstinence-only sex education in Flagler County schools.

The details are still to be worked out, but one major question is whether this expanded education should include making condoms available for students at school. It shouldn’t.

The objective of the condoms would be to prevent teenagers who are already planning to have sex, from having unprotected sex. But why do teens have unprotected sex? Some of them will do it because they do not know the dangers. That group will be taken care of with expanded sex education. We know from a recent survey of Flagler County students that many students welcome more information.

A second group is educated in the dangers but will have unprotected sex anyway, because they don’t believe they’re vulnerable or will choose ignorance. For example, one student wrote in the survey: “I think that having a class on crap like this is totally useless, considering the nature of teenagers. If they won’t listen to peers or their parents, all a class is going to do is take up one more period in our day.”

These students will not request condoms from the nurse’s office.

A third group is educated in the dangers but will have unprotected sex because they’ll find themselves in the heat of the moment, and they’ll realize too late that they don’t have the willpower to stop. For this group, having a condom available in the back seat might be helpful, but having one available back at school is not.

Conversely, having condoms available could be seen by some students as permission to give it a try. They might innocently stop by and pick up a condom, and it will burn a hole in their pocket, potentially subverting any work their parents might be doing to teach abstinence.

Students must be educated. But they don’t need to be facilitated. Teach them the biology and let them buy their own condoms elsewhere.

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