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Rochester city schools adopt new condom policy

By Emily Elicker
On March 12, 2013

  • A controversial new program in Rochester city schools will allow students to have easier access to condoms and birth control. Courtesy of

Look out, students in the Rochester City School District. A controversial decision by the school board making waves across the state now allows public schools in the Rochester area to provide birth control and condoms to students.

As part of the new program, students will participate in counseling sessions with the school nurse discussing how to prevent pregnancy and the consequences of risky sexual behavior. Students are also required to take a class that goes into detail about sexually transmitted diseases, such as AIDS, before they can be given different types of birth control.

City school officials are hoping this new policy will help reduce the number of teen pregnancies by 30 percent and the number of teens with sexually transmitted diseases by 50 percent by the end of the next school year.

While it may seem like this is allowing students to have easier access to condoms, the overall goal is to make them more informed about sex in general. This, unfortunately, has some parents up in arms. Some feel it is not the school's responsibility to educate students about sex. My question is: If teens don't learn this information in a safe and nurturing environment, where will they turn?

It's no secret that sex is a taboo subject in school. We learn anatomical names in biology and the symptoms of some sexually transmitted diseases in health class. In my high school, these units were greeted with a round of jokes and awkward looks around the room. But that is where the information stops.

Maybe this is why teens have created a treasure trove of myths about sex that are largely untrue. Yes, a girl can still get pregnant if you have unprotected sex standing up. Jumping up and down after having unprotected sex does not prevent pregnancy. Drinking Mountain Dew will not lower guys' sperm count and act as a form of birth control.

With little to no information being provided in school, it's no wonder the national teen pregnancy rate has been steadily climbing for the past decade. In Monroe County from 2008 to 2010, 1,555 girls between the ages of 15 and 17 became a teenage mother, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

Most people are familiar with the MTV shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, even if they've never watched an episode. They detail the sobering reality of what it really involves to become a teenage mother. At the end of each episode of 16 and Pregnant, the featured mother gives advice to viewers about their struggles. Almost all of the participants on the show wish they would have been more informed about sex.

For more than a decade, MTV has partnered with the Kaiser Family Foundation for the "It's Your (Sex) Life" campaign in an effort to help teens become more informed about sex and its consequences. Both of these shows are extensions of that campaign.

It's understandable that some parents want to shelter their children for as long as possible so they don't grow up too quickly. They just want the best for their children. However, by choosing not to talk about sex, parents are leaving their kids to fend for themselves.

Some adults might think that by discussing using condoms and birth control, they are giving their teens permission to have sex. In reality, they are giving their children the information they need to behave responsibly.

Maybe this stigma is what prevents teens from feeling comfortable talking to their parents about sex. Sure, parents will sit down with their son or daughter and explain what it means to go through puberty. Why can't the same be said for sex? 

If a mother can talk to her daughter about her period, she should be able to talk about birth control and having safe sex.

Parents, rest assured that having this talk will probably be just as awkward for your teen. In the long run, though, this valuable information will go a long way to prevent your teen from contracting a sexually transmitted disease or even an unplanned pregnancy.

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