Condoms A Good Idea Essay, Research Paper
Condoms in Schools: A Good Idea
The movie Grease. One of the best-loved movies of the twentieth century, watched by millions in the movie theatre upon its release in 1978. A newer, generation that is more modern got to experience the gang at Rydell High when it was re-released in 1998. There are many memorable scenes in the movie, but one that really stands out is the scene where Rizzo and Knicky are making out in his car. They are swept into the moment and Knicky reaches for his wallet where a condom awaits. He comes to find that the condom is broken. Rather than let the mood be blown, they decide to go ahead and have sex anyway. Rizzo has a scare several weeks later when she realizes that she has missed a period. Throughout the rest of the movie, Rizzo is tormented by the fact that she might be pregnant. Although the movie takes place in the fifties, the premise is very modern.
In the late part of the twentieth century, America saw a sexual revolution, which brought about many more increasingly dangerous consequences for sex than simply becoming pregnant. Every year, thousands of teenagers become pregnant or contract an STD. The consequences of adolescent sexuality are of great concern to parents and health care professionals. Sexual conduct among American teens has been studied for the past several decades and analysis has shown that there is an increasing rate of sexual intercourse among young people. In the last twenty years, the amount of teenagers having sex has risen substantially. A solution to the problem has been to include sex education and distribution of condoms in high schools. People were able to accept sex education in high schools but many were opposed to the condom distribution. Parents and educators feel that allowing condoms to be handed out in schools is simply encouraging teenagers to have sex. Travis Tatum is an individual that disagrees with the argument that it is an encouragement, rather, he believes that it is merely providing young people with the materials they need to be responsible and safe in their actions. Mr. Tatum provides three very justifiable reasons for his claim that condom distribution in high schools is necessary.
The first reason that Tatum gives to support his claim is that teenagers are sometimes too young to make wise decisions such as whether to use condoms before engaging in sexual activities. Many times, teenagers make unwise decisions without first considering the ramifications of their actions. Tatum assumes that one of the areas, in which teens are most likely to waver in the common sense department, is in sex. The Committee on Adolescence, American Academy of Pediatrics believes:
School condom availability programs, whether as part of comprehensive
health services provided at the school site, or in the context of a school
based HIV infection/AIDS prevention program, can help remove barriers
to contraceptive use by teenagers and can help establish condom use as a
norm for expected responsible behavior, thus encouraging both peer and
cultural acceptance (Pediatrics, 4)
Many factors decide whether condoms are used by sexually active teenagers, including access, availability, confidentiality, and cost. School is a safe place where children go to experience, grow, understand and learn. They learn to make healthy and intelligent choices so that they may live productive and safe lives. A realistic understanding of the benefits and limitations of condom use is crucial in preserving a goal oriented life that is not prematurely shut down because of one mistake or act of irresponsibility.
Another reason that Tatum gives for condom distribution is that if they are distributed in high schools, then teens are more likely to use them and reduce the risk of pregnancy and disease. A study done by the Rand Corporation found that giving condoms out in schools makes teens more aware of the “possible long term consequences of sex,” which can in turn, make them cautious. Dr. Mark Schuster, a pediatric professor at the University of California at Los Angeles stated:
Students are reminded that with sex can come with pregnancy, AIDS
and sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms raise awareness about
sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS and pregnancy. The attitudes
about engaging in sex actually becomes more negative. It also seems
that distribution of condoms change the attitudes of teens who are
sexually active (Mishra, 1).
Among teens who have had sex, the amount of males who used condoms went from 62 to 90 percent; for females 73, to 94 percent. Other contraceptives such as birth control pills, can be extremely expensive, and create increased body weight, and moodiness. Condoms offer highly effective contraception, and reduced amounts of STD’s without the side effects of some birth control drugs.
Yet another reason of Tatum is if students can get them in school, then they do not have to worry about being too embarrassed to purchase them in stores. Many young people find it extremely difficult to walk into a store and purchase contraception. He assumes that teens are embarrassed by their sexuality and may not want to be seen purchasing condoms and in a lot cases that is true. It is still an embarrassing topic among youth; something that is only talked about with friends. For a teenager to even think about buying contraceptives, is new and scary and the possibility of a friend or family member, or even a perfect stranger to witness them buying condoms is nerve wracking. Providing the condoms and support in school can help to alleviate that nervousness.
The ability to exercise healthy conduct requires three components: knowledge, motivation and resources. To use a condom consistently, teens must have knowledge, motivation and resources to use them responsibly. Schools have an opportunity to influence all three of these aspects because they have taken on the role of increasing knowledge through heath education. Effective education programs focus on responsible decision making as well as practical skills. Because knowledge is not enough to change behavior, sexually active teenagers and even those teens that are not active, must be given the supplies needed to make sensible decisions in their lives. Condom distribution in schools does not encourage usage it encourages responsibility. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) realizes that there is no definite way to ensure that condom distribution in schools will not encourage sex among teens. However, a community-based alliance of parents, health care administrators and especially schools is essential to positively influencing adolescent behavior.