Condoms in schools proposal stirs debate among parents

Goal to reduce unwanted pregnancies, infections


SAN ANTONIO – The debate is on in San Antonio after the American Academy of Pediatrics released a new recommendation saying condoms should be easily available to sexually active adolescents.

The academy said condoms can prevent not only pregnancy, but the spread of sexually transmitted infections as well.

Metro Health Director Dr. Thomas Schlenker said the change is for health reasons.

"It's a bit of a change," Schlenker said. "It's not a big change. It's common sense, I think."

Schlenker is a member of the academy and said condoms are already promoted in programs sponsored by Metro Health.

"(There is a) pretty wide consensus that teenagers who are sexually active need to protect themselves," Schlenker said. "We have very high teenage pregnancy rates and we also have high rates of syphilis in our community, which is especially worrisome."

The debate that has started in San Antonio, however, is more about the location suggested by the academy for the distribution of condoms: schools.

Some parents said schools are institutions of learning and should not be involved with students' sexual activity, while others say schools are the perfect place to reach teens who need help.

Maryann Garza said condom distribution in schools would not work.

"There's going to be lots of drama," Garza said.

She said parents should be the ones who provide access to condoms for their sexually active children.

"I think that's better for the parents because if they do give them out here, I think everything's just going to get out of control," Garza said. "Kids going out, girls getting pregnant and stuff because there's parents that don't talk to their children."

Maria Nava is a grandmother and said condoms available in schools would prevent unwanted pregnancies.

"Well, that's fine," Nava said. "At least the girls don't get babies."

There have been worries that more condoms would mean more sexual activity, but studies have shown that is not the case.

"It doesn't change people's behavior but it just changes the outcomes," Schlenker said. "It certainly would be very appropriate if they have a school nurse and the school nurse could provide counseling."

Pediatricians are also encouraging abstinence.

Viewers weigh in on 'condoms' in schools debate

The debate over whether sexually active adolescents should be provided low- or no-cost condoms has been a hot topic on KSAT.com and on KSAT 12's Facebook page.

Some people believe condoms should not be easily or freely available to teens, while others simply disagree on whether schools should be part of the process.

Still others say that some teens are going to have sex regardless of whether condoms are available and that providing them, whether in schools or not, only makes sense.

On KSAT.com visitor wrote: "Schools need to concentrate on educating kids on subjects that will help further their intellect, not their sexuality."

Another wrote: "Too many of our high school students (are) getting pregnant. Give them condoms!!!"

On KSAT's Facebook page, Kristy wrote: "...teens don't have money to stop at Walgreen's and buy condoms. They should be offered free at school."

While Jeanette countered with "My gosh, what's next, a stop at the school nurse's office for the morning after pill?"

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