Posted at: 02/22/2013 11:19 AM
Updated at: 02/22/2013 7:43 PM
By: Berkeley Brean
The free condom program in city high schools starts next week.
The city school district is starting the free condom program because, according to the district, half of the new HIV infections in the city happen in people between the age of 15 and 24. This year, more than 680 kindergarten students in the city are children of teen mothers.
A student can get 10 condoms per day. The district says they got that number based on the New York City model. The students have to sign a pledge that they will not sell or give away condoms to their friends. But that's exactly what one person who counsels teen moms in school thinks is going to happen.
Nancy Shelton, CAPP Coordinator, said, “The reality is that kids are having sex.”
Nancy Shelton counsels teen mothers in the city school district. She helped coordinate the free condom program that starts Monday.
Shelton said, “I think the number is appropriate because what ends up happening is they often share those condoms with their friends. I don't assume they're have sex 10 times a day.”
But sharing with friends means students could get condoms for friends whose parents opted out of the program. The district admits it can't control that.
Jerome Underwood, Sr. Dir. Youth Dev. & Family Services, said, “There's nothing that is going to prevent that. It's going to be up to the young man, the young lady and the counseling the nurses give them.”
Shelton says sharing could get condoms in the hands of students who are too embarrassed to ask.
News10NBC's Berkeley Brean said, “The number 10 just struck us as high, as well as our viewers.”
Shelton said, “I can imagine. I mean I'm a parent myself. And I would be a little struck if I found out my sons were going to the nurse's office everyday getting 10 condoms and it would cause me to have some conversations with my kids. But at the same time, I would prefer that my children have access to condoms as opposed to not.”
The program is not set up where kids go up to a fishbowl and scoop out 10 condoms everyday. They have to get a note to see the school nurse. The district says if a student asks for 10 condoms or goes to the nurse everyday, they'll get special counseling, especially if the nurses believe the student is engaging in what the district calls risky or excessive sexual activity.
Abstinence is talked about as part of the counseling session with the school nurse, but people like Nancy Shelton, don't think it's realistic to think that every student will follow that. Their own studies show 60% of high school students in the city are sexually active. So their attitude is better to be safe than sorry.