Feb. 15, 2011
BOSTON — Some recent studies show that teenagers learn more about sex through media like magazines and TV shows than from reliable sources. That’s the reason, some say, that schools should become involved — most noticeably in making condoms available to sexually active students.
The debate over condoms in schools has long raged. What’s new, though, is the culture fueling it.
“The environment for young people is there is lots of media, lots of advertising that really focuses on sex,” said Patricia Quinn, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy.
Take the new MTV show Skins, which notoriously lost advertisers recently for depicting randy young teenagers living for and around sex. Perhaps realizing the fact behind the fiction, the Boston City Council hears arguments Tuesday on the availability of condoms in Boston’s public high schools.
Patricia Quinn of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy is working with fellow organizations and teenagers in Boston to provide students full access to condoms in tandem with education programs.
“Every survey that’s ever been done, parents overwhelmingly support comprehensive sexuality education for their kids and they overwhelmingly support school as a place for that to happen,” Quinn said.
Here in Boston, she said, the numbers have people paying attention. 70 percent of 18-year-olds say they've had sex — and many of them report being sexually active before they turn 15 or 16 — some as young as 12. Half of them have had three or more partners. And cases of chlamydia are up 70 percent.
Despite those figures, some people Greater Boston spoke to remain cool on condoms.
“Oh, dead set against it. They’re too young. They should wait until at least 18,” said one respondent.
“I feel like if you give them access it’s promoting sex,” said another.
Others said teenagers who choose to have sex should have access to protected.
“If they want to do it, they can do it as long as they’re protected,” one person sad.
“Regardless, they’re going to get into it. It’s high school," added another.
Condom proponents say it’s the lack of sexual education and awareness that make protection necessary — and they’ll argue that for the lack of education, school is the perfect place to go for condoms.
Your voice: Do you think condoms should be more widely available in public schools?