Condoms and school – what the studies say
One of the big issues being discussed at the moment is condom provision in schools – with one bunch saying it’s a good idea, and another saying its bad.
What we often find with science, is it doesn’t really give the results we expect. We quite naturally would expect that the presence of condoms would make children more likely to have sex, because it makes it safer for them to do so.
Reading a few scientific studies, however, and it appears the health department has the facts on its side.
A study done in America in 2003 (Which can be found in the US Library of Public Medicine) has this to say about condom provision:
“Adolescents in schools where condoms were available were more likely to receive condom use instruction and less likely to report lifetime or recent sexual intercourse. Sexually active adolescents in those schools were twice as likely to use condoms, but less likely to use other contraceptive methods, during their most recent sexual encounter.”
In other words, exactly what the health department claims. It doesn’t increase sexual activity; it simply makes the sexual activity safer.
Now it is important to note, as a 2011 study did, that condom distribution programmes in US schools aren’t simply about handing out condoms. They tend to include more comprehensive sex education too, and when that side of these programs are cut their results become less impressive, but from what I can see there is no indication that the presence of condoms actually raises the chances of kids having sex.
According to the MRC, a study was done in Cape Town, Mankweng and Dar es Salaam that supports the policy:
“Research conducted by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) Health Systems Research Unit shows that comprehensive sex education programmes in schools delay sexual debut and increase condom use amongst adolescents aged 12 – 14 years. “
Sex, is not something we want children to have yet. They aren’t really ready to deal with the consequences of when it goes wrong.
Unfortunately what we want isn’t what we are getting, so we need to minimise the harm. Ignorance doesn’t stop people doing things it just means they do them in a more risky manner.
One of the things I think we should include in schools is teaching children martial arts, because by learning how to fight, they can learn how to not harm their class mates.
Knowledge is power, and people without power are much more easily used to their own detriment. This is why it is such a crisis that mathematics and science are falling behind in our schools, because without a decent grasp of math poverty becomes an inescapable trap, because you can’t plan beyond tomorrow without being able to run the numbers.
It is also why “don’t tell your parents” is universally the mark of a predator – the parents know it is wrong and thus have the power to do something about it.
The condom roll-out is a step towards empowering our youth when it comes to sex, I just hope it isn’t the last step taken.