RCSD condom program begins Monday

Posted at: 02/21/2013 4:39 PM
Updated at: 02/21/2013 5:20 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

Free condoms being given away to high school students in the city.  The project starts on Monday.

The condoms are free to the district and they are getting them from the New York State Health Department. A lot of people are divided about the idea.

On Monday, any student can visit the school nurse and ask for a condom.

Here's why the district is doing it:

In 2010, there were 1,000 children born to teenage moms in city zip codes. This year, there are more than 680 children in kindergarten who have teenage moms.  That's enough to fill 31 kindergarten classes.

Half of all new HIV infections in the city happen in people 15 to 24. And a school district survey showed that almost 60% of city high school students are sexually active.

Jerome Underwood, Senior Director of Youth of Development and Family Services, said, “If we can prevent one child from contracting an STD or HIV, it's absolutely worth it.”

But what do parents think.

Tracy Langley, a mother of four, said, “As a parent, come to me. I want to be able to have that relationship with my child that she can come to me as a child and have that conversation and have the proper things and talk and do what we're supposed to do as a family.”

Renee Donaldson, mother, said, “It's a good thing for the kids that can't talk to their parents and they need someone to talk to or go to. It's better to be safe than sorry.”

There is an opt-out option for parents. They can fill out a form saying they don't want their child to have access to the condoms.

Underwood said, “So if they have children in the district that they do not want to participate, that option is there.”

The district mailed out 8,000 letters to parents with the opt-out form. The district says 1 ½ to 2% of the opt out forms were signed and sent back. That's only 160.

One health organization said they think it would be more fair to parents if it were an opt-in program. Parents can opt out anytime they want.

If you, as a parent, want to get more information on this program and talk with your kids, here's a copy of this form.