Saturday, February 18, 2012

One of Those News Stories That I Have Mixed Feelings About

From the February 18, 2012 San Francisco Chronicle:
Teenagers in several counties can get condoms in the mail for free under a program launched this week and supported by state public health officials.

The Condom Access Project allows youth between the ages of 12 and 19 to order a package of 10 condoms, lube and health brochures online at TeenSource.org, a website run by the nonprofit California Family Health Council. The package will be mailed to them in a nondescript yellow envelope.

Supporters say the program — aimed at reducing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among teens — will benefit young people who cannot afford to buy condoms or are too embarrassed to go to clinics where they are distributed for free.
I have mixed feelings about this.  Contrary to the claims of the experts who assert that this will not encourage kids (and a 12 year old is still a kid), it is obvious that it will.  There are girls who are putting off sex out of fear of pregnancy, and there are boys putting off sex out of fear of having to talk to a parent about why Janie's parents are about angry about John and Jane's after school activities.  Anyone that thinks otherwise clearly does not understand that there are teenagers who are capable of planning beyond tomorrow morning. 

At the same time, I suspect that it will prevent a lot of pregnancies, and a lot of STD infections, because many teenagers really do not have the self-control to delay sex to reduce risks.  But maybe not as many as everyone assumes.  Condoms break.  Even when used perfectly (and we all know how good teenagers are on following directions and not getting lost in the passion of the moment), they still have a significant failure rate.  I can pretty well guarantee that the condoms are going to not get put on until immediately before use, and there are pregnancies and STDs that result from waiting until the last minute.

It would be rather nice if there were still parents at home supervising children, but that is so last century.  Even if Janie's Mom is home when she gets home from school (a rather thing today, and especially so in California), Janie's Mom is the big exception.  Far more typically, kids are going home to houses where no adults show up until 5:30 or later.

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