Free condoms for Springfield students 12 and over gains ground
Masslive.com: The School Committee on Thursday gave first-step approval to a policy that would provide students, ages 12 and older, with access to free condoms, aimed at helping to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy.
The committee voted 5-1 in favor of the “Comprehensive Reproductive Health Policy.” The policy, which also includes a provision for counseling for the students, still needs a second vote of approval before it is final.
Under the draft policy, parents “will be notified of condom availability in the schools and will have the opportunity to deny permission (opt out) for access to condoms for their student(s).”
“This is the right move and the smart move to make,” said Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, chairman of the School Committee. Sarno and other committee members said that teens who engage in unprotected sex can harm their own health and can become young parents, more prone to drop out of school, to be less successful, and to be more likely to raise children in poverty. The condoms would be provided by the state Department of Public Health.
Committee member Peter Murphy cast the sole vote against the policy, saying he was not comfortable with the idea of providing condoms to students who are as young as 12 years old when it is not legal for them to engage in sex.
The condoms would be available from school nurses and through the high school-based clinics, officials said. Upon receipt, students will receive counseling including information about abstinence and instruction on proper storage and use of contraceptives, according to the draft policy.
Christopher Collins, vice-chairman, said that while he may take a different view based on his religion or how he brought up his own children, he must act on what he considers to be in the students’ best interest. “We can’t stick our heads in the sand any more,” Collins said.
Committee member Antonette Pepe initially suggested that parents would first have to give their permission in person for their children to get condoms. Members of the Springfield Adolescent Sexual Health Advisory council, however, convinced her during a subcommittee meeting that all parents will be contacted, both by letter and by telephone, about their right to opt out, rather than expect them to come into the schools and sign permission.
Committee members Norman Roldan and Denise Hurst said the policy is an important prevention tool. In 2009, the most recent year for full statistics, Holyoke had the highest teen birth rate in the state for the fifth consecutive year even though the number of teen births declined, according to a state report. The number of births to teenage mothers rose in Springfield in 2009, and the city was ranked fourth in the state for its teen birth rate.
Dr. Sarah Perez McAdoo, co-chairwoman of the Springfield Adolescent Sexual Health Advisory council, joined in urging passage of the policy to protect the health and safety of children. Helen R. Caulton-Harris, the city’s health director and co-chairwoman of the advisory council, said the national statistics show that teen pregnancy is a leading reason students drop out of school. In addition, a child has a 27 percent chance of growing up in poverty if the mother gives birth as a teen, she said, citing statistics.
I suggest that the committee members should have looked at the scientific data before claiming this will help prevent unwanted pregnancies and reducing STDs. Let’s look at the data, shall we? (Data courtesy of LifeNews.com)
- Studies have shown that contraception increases sexual activity — i.e., that more contraception means more sex.
- Many adolescent males will wholeheartedly affirm a connection between the availability of contraception and sexual activity, and scientific data supports the link.
- The Centers for Disease Control data, established clear links between birth control and increases in STDs. STD increases are a very reliable indicator of increased sexual activity and show that contraception is wrongly perceived as low-cost insurance — a perception that motivates increased sexual activity.
- A recent ten-year study in Spain reported that contraception use increased by about 60%, yet the abortion rate doubled. In other words, even with an increase in contraception use, there weren’t fewer unwanted pregnancies, there were more.
But facts and data never let the public schools stop them from believing they know what’s best for your children – even if it has nothing to do with reading, writing, and arithmetics.