Contraceptives In High Schools Essay, Research Paper
Condoms in High Schools
“Approximately four million teens get a sexually transmitted disease every year” (Scripps 1). Today?s numbers of sexually active teens differ greatly from that of just a few years ago. Which in return, projects that not only the risk of being infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) has risen, but the actual numbers of those infected rise each year as well. These changes have not gone unnoticed. In fact have produced adaptations as to how society educates its young adults about sex, using special programs, various advertising, and regulating sexual education courses in public schools. One major adaptation is the advancement and availability of contraceptives. The next best step would be to combine some of these efforts by not only educating teenagers about sex and contraception, but providing them with contraceptives in public high schools.
Contraception has come a long way over the years. Up until thirty years ago, US government policies kept contraceptives out of reach of the
poor, the unmarried, and the young (Mauldon 2). Even information about contraception was hard to find, complements of the Comstock Act of 1873, in which they were defined as “obscene.” As late as 1964 contraception was illegal in some states (2). Where condoms were legal and available, they were still kept behind the counter of pharmacies, and only sold to a select group of male customers.
By the mid-70s, condoms became widely available through public health services, hospitals, and Planned Parenthood centers (Mauldon 3). Quick access to condoms is now a part of American life. Although, perhaps the access alone may not be enough for teens, but rather where the access is. High school, the main wave of social, educational, and sexual involvement for young adults, is the prime place for contraceptives to be distributed. Many students learn about sex and contraception through high school programs, so who better to give them out than the main educators of how to use them.
Some high schools in large cities do distribute condoms to their students, just as many colleges all over the United States. Yet this should not be limited solely to college students and inner city high school students.
It is most likely that there are sexually active teens in every high school, bringing risks to all of them. Dr. Joe. McIlhaney, founder and president of
the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in Austin, TX says “adolescents and young adults are at the highest risk for contracting STDs” (McIlhaney 24). This mostly stems from the promiscuity of teens today. An article based from an NBC News report contained results from a survey conducted last spring of ?99. This survey was based on interviews with 400 teens between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. It found that a good portion of teenagers sexually active in America have had three or more sexual partners (Scripps 2). Moreover “nearly 20 percent of students have had at least four sexual partners by the time they reach the 12th grade” (McIlhaney 24). With that in mind, high school should be the first source for condoms, pharmacies and hospitals should come second, because promiscuous teens seem to be roaming high school hallways more often.
Public high schools distributing contraceptives might be thought of as too liberal for our time, revealing those who would oppose as conservative. And many conservatives do in fact say that already the increased access to condoms and sex education has “stimulated more sexual activity among
teenagers” (Mauldon 1). Even ArchBishop (now Cardinal) Bernardin believes that offering contraceptives to teenagers increases the chances that
they will be sexually active without using contraception (1-2). Neither of these opinions are true. As a matter of fact, The American Prospect
magazine states that “no one has yet been able to show that liberalized contraceptive policies increase teenage sexual activity in general or unprotected sex in particular” (Mauldon 4). However, these are not just the concerns of conservatives or religious leaders, but in addition the concerns of parents of these teens.
Parent appreciate having sex ed. in schools, yet are not as sure about having condoms distributed to teens at school (”What Can”). Many parents feel that their children are too young to have sex and are afraid that telling them about contraceptives will encourage them to do so (Federation). When actually the fact is, ” young people become sexually active when the feel they?re ready, not necessarily when we like them to” (Federation). What many parents forget to consider is that their children face a different world sexually from the one that was presented to them in their time. Numerous diseases are out there today and “more young people are sexually active” (Mauldon 9). Whether their children become sexually active as teens or not,
they will become sexually active someday. So the sooner precautions are provided to teens, the better.
Studies in European nations support that condoms supplied at schools are ineffectual to the numbers of students sexually active (Mauldon 4).
Research in Europe shows evidence that sexual activity among teenagers is “independent of any changes in public provision of contraceptives” (4).
The real concentration of parents should be put on how these young adults evaluate options concerning sex. Alison Forbes, a 17 year old junior at Waumatosa West High School, says ” when kids debate whether they should have sex, they focus on how it will affect their relationship, not on possibility of getting a STD” (Scripps 2). While that may be true and parents might agree, studies still say that as more teenagers become sexually involved, they have also become more likely to use some form of contraception (Mauldon 6).
Pregnancy rates dropped 20 percent between 1970 and 1990 (1). These falling teen birth rates cannot be pinned on abortion. “Fewer teens are getting pregnant in the first place,” writes Laura Meckler of CNEWS, projecting the results from a study in 1998. More teenagers use condoms. They use them sooner after becoming active and are becoming more
sophisticated about their use (Mauldon 1). This progress should be encouraged by making it even easier to obtain condoms. Then the choice of not using them becomes profoundly ridiculous because the opportunity to acquire them is brought upon students at least five school days a week.
With understanding the need of many people to resort back to a simpler age, the main goal now should be to be open and aware of “what works for adolescents” (Mauldon 9). And promoting contraception seem to be what is working. Research shows that “programs that successfully influenced student behavior were focused on increasing contraceptive use, or more specifically, condom use” (8). New policies and programs have made partial progress, although they can and should be stronger. After all, America still has a long way to go before our teens are as effective in prevention as many European countries are (Mauldon 9).
Young adults themselves must also learn that there really is “no such thing as safe sex” (”What Can”1). Abstinence is the safest way to prevent pregnancy and contraction of STDs. Those who do choose to have sex should protect themselves in the best way possible, every time. Teenagers should make sure that they use condoms properly, by giving close attention to lessons taught in programs such as health courses, and reading instructions
provided with the contraceptive. Condom distribution should be encouraged everywhere teens may gather, especially high schools. And there should not
be any opposition, after all “as a group, teens might be more consistent condom users than adults” (Scripps2). Young adults are capable
and will in fact make good decisions if we as a society never limit their options.
Federation of America, Inc. “Sexuality Guides For Families.” Planned
Parenthood 1998, late ed.: Cl. Planned Parenthood. Online. 20 Oct.
Mauldon, Jane and Luker, Kristin. “Does Liberalism Cause Sex?” The
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McIlhaney Jr., Joe S. “Sexual Abstinence.” InSite 29 Sep. 1997, late ed.: Cl.
HIV Insight-Gateway to AIDs Knowledge. Online. % Nov. 1999.
Meckler, Laura. “Teen Abortion, Pregnancy Rates Fall Across the Country.”
CNEWS 25 June 1998, late ed.: Cl CNEWS-Lifestyles. Online. 20
Scripps Howard News Service. “Many Teens Underestimate STDs.” ABC
News 8 Mar. 1999, late ed.: Cl ABC News Living.com. Online. 5
“What Can Be Done About Teens? Sexual Behavior?” Utexas Fall 1995, late
ed.: Cl Utexas. Online. 20 Oct. 1999.