Don’t Have Sex, Here’s a Condom

Am I really that naïve? Is it really so unreasonable to expect kids to hold off sex until they’re at least 16? Philadelphia thinks that I am. And so do a lot of commenters.

Here’s my issue. The City of Philadelphia launched a website recently, called TakeControlPhilly.org. Among other things, the site offers tips about how to properly put condoms on, how to use them, and how to prevent STD’s. All fine. But the controversial part? They will mail free condoms to those who are between the ages of 11 and 19, and live within Philadelphia’s city limits.

Yes, you read that correctly. Age 11. Without parental consent or knowledge.

In reading the comments that followed the original write up that I read (on another blog, not a news account), I was sad, and not at all shocked to read things like, “what a great idea! I hope they do this in my state!”

There weren’t many people at all who had a problem with this. No problem with circumventing parents; no thought to the Age of Consent and the fact that these are 11 year olds; not even any guff over the fact that this is more tax money being spent when there isn’t tax money available.

I don’t understand why there is such a lackadaisical attitude toward kids having sex. I’m not one of those people who thinks that you should wait until you’re married – I have friends who didn’t marry until they were 40. That’s a little ridiculous. But I do think that kids should wait until they at least understand the potential consequences of their actions. I don’t think 16 is unreasonable. In a perfect world, I’m thinking closer to 18 or 20 – so there’s the potential of a job to support that “consequence,” should it happen.

But eleven???

It seems to me that we (and by “we,” I mean, “Government”) should be putting together a massive marketing campaign, like “Say No To Drugs.”  “Say No To Sex.”  Looking up statistics, no matter how people want trash that program, the “Say No To Drugs” campaign did help reduce drug use during the Reagan Era. Why? Not because kids wanted to do what the government told them, but because everybody was behind that campaign. Parents supported it. Schools brought in speakers who told the horrors of drug use. Pictures of strung-out addicts were plastered all over the walls. Pretty soon, kids caught on, and it was uncool to do drugs. They shunned their peers who got high. Did it completely eradicate the problem? No, nothing ever will. But did it massively raise awareness?  Yes.

But for some reason, we can’t do the same thing with sex. Those who argue say that there IS awareness… “Look at MTV’s ‘Teen Mom’ series!!” But what has happened to those girls? They’re rich and famous. How did they get there? They got pregnant. Wrong message, folks. They need to show the ones who got pregnant and are now living in shelters, on welfare, who can’t go to college because they have to work at McDonald’s just to pay for diapers. Because that’s more of reality.

I don’t know what the answer is. Truly I don’t. But I do know that saying, “Don’t have sex. Here’s a condom,” isn’t it.

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14 Responses to Don’t Have Sex, Here’s a Condom

  1. Phyllis says:

    Starting at 11 yr olds? I’m sitting here shaking my head, completely appalled. What’s going wrong here I’m wondering. I don’t know the answer, but I seriously doubt that handing out free condoms to 11 & 12 yr olds is the correct answer. Regardless of the demonstrations and illustrations, I highly doubt that kids this young will fully grasp the info provided.

    Don’t get me wrong, STDs are a serious and often life-threatening issue. But let me ask, among us adults, how many of us have had (or heard) of a condom breaking, slipping off when exiting, etc? Often resulting in pregnancy. Yeah, lets put these in the hands of youngsters and promote promiscuity. Lets add to the already high numbers of unwed mothers who will probably (according to statistics) be on welfare or working at low paying jobs (often both) for the rest of their lives. Then their kids have kids, and it just goes on and on. One long vicious cycle.

    I think it’s time for stronger parental involvement in their kids lives. It’s time to actually, oh my gosh, have some difficult conversations with these children you brought into the world. Time to instill ethics, morals and all that other good stuff family learns from each other… like right from wrong and taking the consequences when you mess up. Time to go back to making sure there is time to spend as a family, know who their friends are and who their friends parents are. Everyone seems to be more concerned with making sure their kids have all the “good stuff” in life, but not many parents are taking the responsibility to be in their kid’s faces and business. There’s really nothing wrong with being termed “the meanest mom/dad in the whole wide world”. On the contrary, that could just be the best badge of honor a real and loving parent could ever wear.

  2. Karen Joy says:

    Phyliss said it all!!Bravo! LOVE this part–There’s really nothing wrong with being termed “the meanest mom/dad in the whole wide world”. On the contrary, that could just be the best badge of honor a real and loving parent could ever wear.
    To many parents are “friends”with their kids with out actually parenting them!makes for an insane world!It boggles my mind how parents think nothing of their children having sex,getting pregnant so young!Morals and ethics are pretty much out the window in our world.

  3. Laura says:

    Since I wrote this, I noticed a couple of things. First, in the article that I cited, one of the proponents of this program said, “They don’t have maturity or impulse control, so if we can get them to have condoms with them when they start having sex, they are going to be safer.”

    So you’re telling me that these kids, who have no maturity or impulse control, are going to be mature enough to control their impulses while they go online, order the condoms, and wait TEN DAYS for them to be shipped out??? No! They’re going to rip off their clothes and get down to business.

    Another commenter made some good points, too. This is like handing your kid a bullet-proof vest, telling him to put it on, and then giving another kid a gun and saying, ‘go ahead and shoot’. Would you do that?? HELL no!!

    Dang, I just don’t get people.

  4. SKL says:

    I don’t think parents are OK with their kids having sex at 11, and they want to be the person telling their kids about sex, risks, morals, etc. But they have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by comments like:

    “Sure, it’s better for parents to talk to them, but you know some parents won’t do a good job of it, so the government needs to do it.”

    OK, first of all, since when do we hand parenting rights over to the government just because “some parents” aren’t going to do a good job? Because you could say that about every parenting responsibility. Discipline? Nutrition? Mental stimulation? Cleanliness? Can you not think of real-life horrors in each of these categories? And yet, do you think the government should be stepping into your place on any of these? I didn’t think so.

    Secondly, how well does the government manage to control unsafe sex in situations where they do have the control? Prisons? Detention centers? Group homes? Mental hospitals? These are some places where unsafe sex runs rampant. Do we really want to trust our kids’ “safe sex” knowledge and attitudes to the government?

    Then you get the argument that “abstinence education leads to more pregnancies.” First of all, that is untrue. Secondly, even if it were true, that argument doesn’t fly when you’re talking about pre-teens! Come on! There is something seriously wrong with a situation where 11-year-olds think they should be having sex. It isn’t just a matter of convenience / choice. There is an underlying major problem that needs to be dealt with. You don’t throw a condom at that! You don’t give them a “nonjudgmental” talk that makes them think it’s normal, and that maybe they’re abnormal if they don’t do it.

    You know what’s weird – these same people will get on your shit if you say a word to a young girl about her weight (or about weight or fat in general). Because our delicate little darlings are too fragile to be made aware of that simple, factual aspect of our bodies. And yet, they can’t seem to introduce kids to sex young enough. They proudly exchange stories of how their toddlers pipe out words like “vagina” at the grocery store. But then again, they get upset if you show children pictures of a healthy developing embryo / fetus. Is it just me, or does this world seem crazy?

    I know there are no guarantees in parenting. But that doesn’t mean the parent gives up the responsibility to do the best job she can. I want to tell my daughters that they are not sex objects nor animals, that they can be strong and reap the many benefits of patience and planning. I would rather not be undermined by other authority figures. It’s bad enough that they will get pressure from their peers.

  5. SKL says:

    Oh, and I know it’s not the same thing, but a lot of those 11-year-olds who are being given condoms with no questions asked? Well, in many if not most places:

    – They have to sit in a car seat / booster unless they are on the tall side.

    – They aren’t allowed to be home alone.

    – They aren’t allowed to walk home from school alone, or bike to & from school.

    – They aren’t allowed to bring an aspirin to school.

    – They aren’t allowed to be left alone in a car while their parent goes into a shop.

    – They aren’t allowed to enter a fitness center.

    – They aren’t allowed to be somewhere else during school hours.

    – They aren’t allowed to get their ears pierced without their parents’ permission.

    But, they are ready for “safe sex”!

    • Laura says:

      Oh, THAT was the other point that I was trying to remember last night!! How ridiculous is it that they cannot leave their CARSEATS until they’re 12, but they can have sex at 11???

      You make all good points here, but that was the one that really struck me as ridiculous.

    • Sue says:

      Scarily true SKL! What is wrong with people today?! Yes, a small number of kids are having sex at 11, but we need to get back to common sense and parents who will parent!

    • Phyllis says:

      I’m so glad that you made these points SKL! I agree heartily with everything you said!

  6. Nikki says:

    Parents need to be parents. Raise them to make good decisions! Something is just not right if you are having sex that young.

    I’ve had this talk with my son last year, when he was 9. Kids in 4th grade were supposedly having sex. Now, I don’t know if they were saying they were to be “cool” or actually having it. In my opinion they shouldn’t even be thinking it, that only leads to doing it. Parents have to really know their kids, and kids have to know they can go to the parents.

    This whole idea of kids having sex makes me sick. And now they can get them through the mail, for free? I don’t know…for one, I think Laura said it. Lets just say they actually do order some, what are the chances of them waiting for them?! And without a parents consent?? What is wrong with peoples thought process?

  7. Joy says:

    I remember when these “discussions” were about whether or not to let a high school nurse talk to kids about sex and have condoms. HIGH SCHOOL! Some parents didn’t want that either. “That promoted sex!” Most parents argued “I’ll take care of “that talk” myself. I don’t need the school nurse to do it.”

    But this was high school and it was many years ago. I did get into my fair share of fisticuffs with people because I’m for the underdog. I personally know, for a fact, that some kids don’t have parents that care. Some kids don’t have parents who talk to them about non important stuff so why would they take the time to talk to them about VERY important stuff.

    But 11? 11? I’m still thinking 11????? This is way to young for these “handouts.” I do think someone needs to be there for kids who’s parent’s are vacant but this is way to young. WAY! I wonder what the average age of menstruation is. I wasn’t near 11. I was almost 15!! I know it’s younger now but really, I can’t even think about this. It makes me really sad. I feel they’re getting cheated out of a childhood and very happy memories. Sex should be for adults or near adults. 11 is nowhere near that.

    • Nikki says:

      I agree, there does need to be someone for the ones that don’t have parents, or have parents who aren’t involved. I know that from experience, I had no one, and thankfully came out with no accidents! But yeah, 11????

    • SKL says:

      I understand the sentiment that we want “someone” to be there for kids whose parents won’t. However, the government is no improvement, in my opinion. Or, not much of one.

      Kids already learn about reproduction and contraception in public school. I can’t believe any child in US public schools reaches 11 without having enough knowledge to at least ask for more information if they “plan to have sex” (what a thought!). So then the real issues go deeper into responsibility and morals.

      I remember that my grandma told me when she was a teen (90 years ago), a boy tried touching her and she asked her mom what she should do. Her mom told her “whatever you do, keep your skirt down over your private parts.” What is the government going to do? First of all, how do you go to “the government” and ask a question? Secondly, when you do, how do you know the person you’re talking to really cares or really has any common sense or morals him/herself? Let’s face it, if my grandma had asked “the government” that question today, they would have told here “here’s a condom, here’s how you use it, and this is where you go if you miss your period afterward.” Is that really SO much better than what even a stumbling parent will do? As Phyllis pointed out, condoms break, and some people are allergic to them. But once a girl has decided to be sexually active, it will be harder to say “no” and more likely, in my opinion, that she’ll have an “oops.” Besides, pregnancy and STDs aren’t the only problems caused by kids having sex. (Do I even need to point that out?)

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