.. tegies for educating faculty and students, problems, and tactics for distributing and encouraging the use of condoms among teens who are sexually active. Data collected in 1991 and 1993 suggests that the presence of the condom availability plan did not increase the rates of sexual activity among students, although it may have contributed to safer sex. Schools without the program had a two-percent increase of students who had sex in the previous four weeks. Schools with the condom availability plan had a three- percent drop of students who have had sex in the previous four weeks.
This is believed to be a result of the information provided by the school about sex and harmful effects it can have on a teen and their future. In the schools with HRC’s, 34.8 percent of the students had used the HRC, only 22.7 percent of the students received condoms. A total of 35 percent of all students who visited the HRC used it only to gain information. The condom availability program requires passive parental consent (Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., Lynne Maziarz Geitz, Julien O.
Teitler and Christopher C. Weiss, page 124). Parents have the right of withholding their child from acquiring a condom through the center by signing and returning a letter sent by the school administration. Parental consent is not needed for a student to obtain health referrals or counseling through the center. Most parents don’t know what is being taught in their child’s Sex Ed class.
Parents generally do not talk with their children about sex. If more parents talked with their children, programs such as these would not be needed. Parents claim that the program imposes upon parental rights, and the freedom of religion. Most likely, parental consent will continue be a tough issue that school officials will need to address. In 1991 the Board of Education for Philadelphia adopted Policy 123. Policy 123 was created to expand access to condoms and to establish a phase-in condom availability program in schools with classes in grades 9-12.
In 1992, nine Philadelphia High Schools opened HRC’s where students could obtain condoms, general health referrals, and reproductive health information. Philadelphia schools have an opt-out choice for parents who choose to exclude their children from the program. Currently there is a challenge underway in Philadelphia. The case was first dismissed for lack of legal standing. Plaintiffs had denied their children access to the program, legally, it could not be deemed harmful. There is a firm history of legal support for minors to receive medical services related to sexuality and reproductive health; there is a high chance Philadelphia may win this case.
In Falmouth County, Massachusetts, there was also a condom distribution program created. Parents claimed the program infringed upon their parental rights, and denied their religious liberties. The parents requested that the courts prevent any further operation of the distribution program. The Massachusetts Supreme Court, upholding the lower court ruling, rejected the parents claims that the program violated their rights. A five-judge panel ruled that the existence of the program did not infringe upon students or parents rights.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled [The] students are free to decline to participate in the program. No penalty or disciplinary action ensues if a student does not participate…..[and] the plaintiff parents are free to instruct their children not to participate. The program does not supplant the parent’s role as advisor in the moral and religious development of their children. (Karen Mahler page 1) In 1991 the New York City Board of Education created a program to make condoms accessible to all high school students upon request. The program caused parental disagreement and the school board was taken to court. Parents claimed that making condoms available to students was a health service and could not be provided to students. The board argued that the condom plan was not a medical service.
They explained it was one part of a comprehensive educational program that did not require direct parental consent. The school board lost the case. The program may have survived had the case been heard by the New York State Supreme Court Massachusetts is the most significant, it is the highest court to address the issue, and it rejects,…. the claim that condom availability interferes with parental liberties (Karen Mahler). In 1977 the United States denied a New York State Law prohibiting the distribution or sale of non-prescription contraceptives to teens under the age of 16. The United States Supreme Court seems to have support for the condom availability program.
The United States Supreme Court declined to review the Curtis vs. School Committee of Falmouth case. In this case, the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the lower courts ruling to support the condom availability plan. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case is encouraging for schools who wish to create programs to make condoms more accessible to the high school students. Bill Clinton requested more money and effort put into teen pregnancy programs.
Clinton wanted these programs to inform kids about contraceptives, but to emphasize abstinence as the only infallible way not to become pregnant. Congress is currently considering a Republican plan to deny welfare benefits to unwed teen mothers (J.A.N. page 1). If this plan passes, the majority teens that become pregnant will have no way of supporting themselves or their children. School districts are eager to create programs that will effectively protect the health and safety of their students. This is due to the rising levels of concern over sexual activity among teens and the rates of sexually transmitted diseases. At least 64 percent of school superintendents would like to look into programs of condom distribution for their school district.
School systems are moving away from the message that abstinence is the only way to protect yourself from pregnancy and STD’s. They are beginning to inform their students about the use of contraceptives and working to expand the students access to condoms. Hopefully their efforts will not go unrewarded. If the school has to take action to prevent pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in school then something is not being done at home that should be. Parents should be glad that the school their teen child attends cares enough to try and help them. A program that distributes condoms spends a lot of time and money, not to mention the effort put into it by teachers, administrators, counselors, health professionals, the school nurse and the local health department.
Students who have access to condoms are likely to use them. In past cases, the program did not promote sex among the students of the schools. It did, however, provide important information to its students, and may have contributed to safer sex. The distribution of condoms in public high schools will promote safe sex among teenagers. Bibliography Furstenburg, Frank , Mariarz, Geitz , Teitler, Julien , Weiss, Christopher Does Condom Availability Make a Difference? An Evaluation of Philadelphias Health Resource Centers Family Planning Perspective Volume 29, Issue 3 (May-Jun.,1997), 123-127. Kreiner, Anna Learning to Say No to Sexual Pressure New York: The Rosen Publishing Group Mahler, Karen Condom Availability in the Schools: Lessons from the Courtroom Sexuality Volume 4, Article 63 1993-1996 Natale, Jo Anna The Hot New Word is Sex Ed School Volume 5 Article 30, 1994-1996 Sex education: Anything goes.
Washington Times 1 Nov. 2000 Stewart, Gail B. Teen Parenting. San Diego: Lucent Books 2000 Teens Regret Having Sex. Maryland Abstinence Education and Coordination Program. Summer 2000 Education Essays.