A Conflict Concerning Condoms

June 16, 2010
By
In a survey conducted by the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center in Providence, R.I., 1,410 sexually active people, aged 15-21, “reported an average of two partners and about 15 incidents of unprotected sex during the preceding 90 days” (Huget). That is a pretty frightening statistic with the all too familiar threat of STDs and unwanted pregnancies lurking around every corner. So providing condoms to high school students seems like a sound idea, right? Unfortunately, it is really not that simple. Although condoms may prevent the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancies, distribution in high schools is not addressing the roots of why rates of the aforementioned issues are rising.

So why didn’t those teenagers use a condom? While a large number of teenagers are sexually active, many are too “embarrassed or have no means to obtain condoms if they are not made available in school” (Reising). In fact, in New York public high schools, “69% of parents believed students should be able to obtain condoms in schools, but almost half felt they should have the right to keep their children from doing so” (Reising). Then what is the point? Obviously it is not helping matters here. Sure giving a nicotine patch to a smoker is a step in the right direction, but it is often not enough. Parents need to talk to their kids. Where is the communication? Yes, I know the dreaded “sex talk” is oh so awkward, but stepping in now would assist their kids in making healthy, wise decisions. That would lay down the groundwork if anything sticky like a positive test for HIV, pregnancy, or both came up.


If there failed to be a solid relationship, well you do the math: a sexually active teen who does not use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year (Guttmacher Institute). There’s a baby bouncing on the teenage girl’s hip, what’s next? The mother has a higher chance of graduating high school than in the past, but she might be missing out on the college experience unlike women who put off child-bearing.
How could this have been avoided? And did she really want to engage in sexual intercourse in the first place? Marion Howard, a professor of osbtetrics and gynecology at Emory University, asked upward of a thousand girls in Atlanta what they desired to learn in sex education, “84 percent of the girls answered ‘How to say no without hurting the other person’s feelings” (Kelley). Basically, more than 8 out of 10 girls do not wish to have sex with their significant other. Then why are unplanned pregnancies and STDs still such a problem? There are several reasons. Guys need to stop pressuring their girlfriends to have sex with them, and girls need to stand up for themselves and refuse. Now why they are having trouble saying no can be complex, but there is a recurring reason. A great deal are insecure and may not be feeling love from their friends and family. They then seek it in intimate relationships. If even that is in jeopardy, they may lose their virginity in a misguided attempt to preserve things as they are. Programs instructing teenage girls on being assertive would be a great start.

But let’s not forget the other side of the puzzle: boys should not take advantage of their girlfriend for some sort of sexual gratification, and if a pregnancy results, they should take responsibility and step in to help sort it out. This appears to be an issue. Apparently, in their “macho world,” it is “considered admirable to get a girl pregnant but not so cool to be seen taking care of a baby” (Sanders). It’s not ‘cool’? Well maybe they should spend a day in the mother’s life, being extremely sleep-deprived because the baby’s crying, having to change gross diapers, and be responsible for another human being, one of your own flesh and blood—all while their family shakes their head at the foolish, regretful, unthinkable blunder. Maybe, just maybe that will knock the father down a peg or two. Oh, so now it doesn’t sound so appealing, right? Then boys should be taught all about the responsibilities that come with knocking a girl up; make sure they think it through before making their choice. Because if they aren’t willing to deal with the whole package, then as Bob Ray Sanders said, “Let me suggest that you indeed sired a child. But you are no father.”

It is no wonder morals are in question, and putting condoms in a basket for hormonal teenagers to help themselves is not exactly the smartest route to take. In fact, New York State law states that a “person less than 17 years of age is legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse or other sexual contact. These laws are known as statutory rape laws” (The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault). Teenagers simply are not mature enough to make these decisions. In countries where HIV and AIDS are spreading at an alarming rate, this is not a matter to take lightly. Teen girls’ cervixes aren’t finished developing, so the cells are particularly vulnerable to STDs. President Mwanawasa of Zambia has gone so far to ban the distribution of condoms in schools, saying that immorality would be encouraged and “actually increase the speed with which HIV/AIDS spread among teenagers, who are responsible for the economic future of the country” (Reising).

If providing promiscuous, immature teenagers with condoms is a no-no, then taking solid steps to a future with healthy teens choosing abstinence isn’t far off. Communication and reaching through to boys and girls will slowly but surely make that vision become true. Call me old-fashioned, but physical attraction or lust only goes so deep. Take a few steps away from the rush of things, and teens, you might be surprised at just how big the world is—revolving around a great deal more than having a great night.





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