Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kids and Condoms

(Originally posted 6/24/10, now bumped and updated.)

I've been painfully consistent on this point--schools have no business concerning themselves with the off-campus (or non-school-function) activities of students. Those activities are rightly the responsibility of parents. If some parents make choices that "the school" deems inappropriate, such is freedom.

This school district, though, is spitting in the face of freedom, saying in effect, We'll do whatever we want and the parents be damned:

Students in Provincetown — from elementary school to high school — will be able to get free condoms at school under a recently approved policy that takes effect this fall. The rule also requires school officials to keep student requests secret, and ignore parents’ objections.

Student sexual activity, as long as it's taking place outside of school, is not the school's concern. Besides, is it too much to ask that students go to the store and buy condoms?

Mike at EIA pretty much nails it:

Here’s what Michele Couture, chairwoman of the town’s Board of Selectmen, had to say about it:

“I don’t know, you don’t want to take away a parent’s right to decide what’s right for their child. But it’s unrealistic to think that a parent saying no to condoms means the child’s going to say no to sex. They’re still going to have sex; they’re just not going to have a condom.”


This doesn’t have to cause such a huge fight. If Ms. Couture is convinced of what the kids are going to do, and is so certain of it that she will overrule their parents’ decisions, then she and the district should be perfectly willing to take the next logical step.

Adopt the kids.
Don't want to do that? Then let the parents raise their children as they see fit. Ms. Couture and her ilk can raise their children as they see fit.

Update, 6/30/10: Oh, what a Solomonic and magnanimous backtrack. Not.

The superintendent of a Provincetown, Mass., school district is apologizing to parents for what she calls a misunderstanding over a condom availability policy.

In an e-mailed letter sent out on Tuesday, Superintendent Beth Singer said that the district will clarify that elementary school-age students won't be able to get a condom if they request one from the school nurse.
Again I ask: why does the school need to give out condoms at all? Are they not available in the local grocery/drug stores? It's freakin' Provincetown.

17 comments:

maxutils said...

Could I be the first to point out that the condoms are not free?

Darren said...

You're correct. Maybe the district will have to lay off a teacher in order to pay for the condoms. It would be more accurate to say that there will be no out-of-pocket cost to the students for the condoms.

Anonymous said...

I am usually all for making condoms readily available to the sexually active population, but elementary school????

Then there's the other issue of, "Could it be inadvertently promoting sex?" Maybe not per se, but I'm thinking if I were in elementary school and I got a hold of a condom, the first thing I'd wanna do is put it on, see what it's all about. And when I become a teenager, the first thing is to see about taking it for a ride...

Darren said...

Are they not "readily available" at every grocery store and pharmacy? It's Provincetown, after all.

maxutils said...

And, as we know or should know, goods with zero marginal cost are used beyond their societally optimal cost. Interestingly, in his book "More Sex is Safer Sex," Stephen Landsburg presents a fairly convincing argument for not just giving away condoms, but governmental subsidies for returned used condoms. The argument suggests that doing so would encourage the wary (and normally uninfected) to have more sex, thereby increasing the pool of uninfected sexual partners, and thereby reducing the spread of disease. I don't think it applies much to first graders, though.

Darren said...

"[G]oods with zero marginal cost are used beyond their societally optimal cost."

Golly, are you saying that people eat more at a buffet then they would if they were paying a la carte???

maxutils said...

I meant societally optimal point . . . and, that's exactly the esample I use in class. :)

MikeAT said...

..."readily available" at every grocery store and pharmacy?..."

Not to mention the men's room of most truck stops, etc.

Anonymous said...

Why not look at the evidence and see if handing out condoms works or not?

Darren said...

Because the ends, whatever those are, don't justify the means. This isn't the school's business.

Ellen K said...

I hope they give the kids the pretty colored ones because then they can have a heck of a water balloon war. But seriously, if you have concerns about your elementary aged children having unprotected sex, then you have bigger problems than just giving kids condoms.......

Mrs. C said...

This is PROVINCETOWN, MA. There probably ARE no objecting parents out there...

Not that I don't agree with your premise.

Curmudgeon said...

Damn. I'm agreeing with you more and more often Darren. They're going to take away my Libertarian label.

Basically, parents have the rights to mess up their kids in pretty much any way they see fit. They should have the right of refusal, at least. Same for abortions, cigarettes, drinking, dating, use of the car, curfew, job hours. Until he/she is an adult, she/he is a child. Period.

Amerloc said...

It's damned hard to teach skills or content to the kid who's out having a kid. And if NCLB holds us to teaching Pearson's "standards" to every child, I can almost understand how an educational CEO could have made this error.

Note, please, that "understand" does not equate to "tolerate."

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if there is a limit per week or something. I can imagine an enterprising student picking up 10-20 condoms/week at school (for free) and giving them (or selling them) to friends who attend a different school. I can imagine myself at that age just picking up as many as possible to freak out the adults handing them out ("20 condoms a week!?!?!?!? What is he *doing*?!?!?!?" thinks the poor office lady).

-Mark Roulo

DADvocate said...

you don’t want to take away a parent’s right to decide what’s right for their child.

But we will because we're superior and know better than the parents. Plus, everyone knows kids can't control their sexual urges. They're just like dogs.

Anonymous said...

Parents who can control their children's sexual activity will continue to do so. The condoms won't change that.

Parents who are unable to control their children's sexual activity, will continue to be unable to do so. The condoms will benefit those children significantly, though, if they use them: sex for young children is not a good thing, but pregnancy and/or disease is a lot worse.

The only change which would predicted is in the very small class of children who would be having sex, if only they could have condoms for free. Are there any such children in real life?

We already know that the delayed risk of pregnancy/disease/etc is basically irrelevant to children, much less adults. In that vein, it doesn't make much sense to think that the third group above will be large at all.