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Katherine Lee

Condoms for Elementary School Students

By June 25, 2010

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You read that right. Condoms. For elementary school students.

The Governor of Massachusetts is calling upon the superintendent of the Provincetown school district to reconsider a new school policy that allows kids as young as elementary age to receive free condoms without the permission or knowledge of their parents.

The policy, which is set to go into effect in the fall, will require students who request condoms to first get counseling, which will include information about abstinence. (The superintendent, for her part, has noted that the policy would certainly be exercised carefully; if an elementary-age student asked for a condom, the child would be asked many questions and the request would most likely be denied.)

The story behind the startling age limit (or lack of age limit) speaks volumes about where our society is today. Some school board members had pointed out that limiting the policy to high school students, which was once proposed, would have meant that fifth or sixth grade students who were sexually active wouldn't be getting counseling or protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies.

As unsettling as the idea of elementary-school age kids having sex may be, the reality is that some kids that age are indeed experimenting, and in some cases may even be having sex. I grew up in middle-class, average neighborhoods in the suburbs and I can tell you that I definitely heard stories, both in elementary and middle school, of kids who had "boyfriends" or "girlfriends" and were rumored to be having sex. By the time we reached high school, I knew of a couple of girls who had unwanted pregnancies and were going to give their babies up for adoption (believe me, it was a far cry from "Juno," which depicted a best-case scenario of a teen pregnancy).

The issue, at heart, comes down to who should have the final say in whether or not a child receives a condom and counseling about sex and how old the child should be before he or she is exposed to such things. Should it be parents or school?

I know one thing for sure: As my son enters fourth grade in the fall, I know that somewhere between now and high school, he will start to transition from the world of Star Wars Lego toys to more talk about girls and sex. How I prepare him for that transition is my job. And if he ever needs a condom -- and I will do everything in my power to make sure he knows that there are a million reasons why he should wait at least till the end of high school -- I hope he comes to me first.

This is a very controversial and complex issue. Take the two polls below and share your thoughts.


Related Blogs:

  • Condom Policy Under Scrutiny in Massachusetts

  • Comments
    June 25, 2010 at 11:06 am
    (1) Katherine says:

    Interesting post. I agree with you that it’s better to have the conversation than not to. And I’ve heard that it’s better to introduce a dialogue about sexual responsibility and readiness early — so elementary school is certainly not too soon to start talking with kids! By the time they’re ready to be sexually active they’ve probably stopped listening to parents OR teachers.

    June 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm
    (2) momtotwo says:

    Maybe it’s stories like these that have the school officials not wanting to limit ages – the parents in this story were 11 & 12 when their baby was born. So depressing.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fn%2Fa%2F2010%2F06%2F22%2Fnational%2Fa112223D09.DTL

    June 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm
    (3) cathi carpenter says:

    I agree that discussions are needed…but seriously, I have to sign a TWO PAGE document for administration to give my son Tylenol or Pepto…. I have to sign multiple copies for ASP….and there is NOTHING involving a parent or guardian for CONDOMS?????

    July 1, 2010 at 9:37 am
    (4) Clay Boggess says:

    This is nothing more than policy makers seeking to indoctrinate young minds with their views and beliefs once they have removed the threat of parental authority. Who needs parents anyway?

    July 13, 2010 at 3:46 am
    (5) mv says:

    this is the most ridiculous thing. Only in massachusetts! what is wrong with this world, leaving decisions like this to school age kids! let’s just remove the parents from these children’s lives. let’s just let them run around with no parental guidance. let’s just let school administration make decisions for our children that we carried in our womb and who we are clothing and feeding and providing shelter for. let’s just go ahead and teach these kids that it’s okay to be self indulgent. i do agree with cathi carpenter as i was a school nurse (elementary). i can’t give tylenol to kids without parental consent and signed papers yet i can give condoms out without parental consent. RIDICULOUS!

    March 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm
    (6) Howard Gottlieb says:

    People wonder what’s wrong in our schools? I can give you two things. The first is that schools would consider giving our free condoms and the second is that parents are no longer involved and have no idea what their kids are doing anymore.

    Such a shame.

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