Better safe than sorry: why high schools should provide condoms to students


Cienna Pangan

Various brands of condoms are sold at this local Walgreens.

Cienna Pangan, Photo Manager

The need for accurate sex education for adolescents is growing exponentially as teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates increase. Abstinence-based curriculums prevent comprehensive sex education and leave teens unprepared for sexual encounters.

Although knowledge about safe sex is a necessity for adult life, schools across the nation continue to preach abstinence and avoid teaching students about contraception and prevention methods. Only 29 states in the U.S. mandate sex education, and 39 require HIV/AIDS education. 

The CDC found condoms to be the most common method of birth control for teens from 2011-2015. While over half of U.S. adolescents will have had sex by 18, high schools, such as PV, refrain from providing condoms to students. 

Condom distribution programs (CDPs) have been proven by the CDC to increase condom use and reduce the transmission of HIV/STDs. Many colleges in the state, such as University of Iowa, Iowa State University and Coe College, provide free condoms to students in an effort to reduce the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. 

Yet, high schools, such as PV, continue to base their sex education on abstinence and refrain from implementing a CDP. The state of Iowa does not require sex and HIV/AIDS education to be abstinence-based; PV builds their Human Growth and Development Program around encouraging abstinence. 

STDs are on the rise, with chlamydia rising 19 percent, gonorrhea 63 percent and syphilis 71 percent since 2014. Approximately half of those cases are people aged 15-24, putting teens at a high risk of contracting STDs. The fact remains that high schoolers have sex, and they should be equipped with all the tools they can get to use safe practices. 

Nurse Pam Cinadr said, “I think some people don’t realize how early you need to start because you can get a lot of sex education that is not correct just by watching TV.”

PV is not opposed to helping students answer questions about sexual activity. “Anybody that comes to me with a question about anything or a fear or any of that, I will talk to them and help them figure out what they need to do and who they need to see,” said Cinadr. 

However, many oppose the idea of a CDP at a high school, arguing that it might not be taken seriously by students. Cinadr said, “If you feel that you are mature enough to have a sexual relationship with someone, you definitely are mature enough to go buy your own condoms.”

Mature or not, teenagers are sexually active. “There are so many young underclassmen who are sexually active and they don’t practice safe methods because they aren’t educated. Providing condoms to high schoolers would just encourage using them,” said senior Grace Welveart. 

Providing condoms to students at high school would benefit students by encouraging them to make safe choices. It’s better to equip students with accurate and useful knowledge and resources than to risk the possibility of students being exposed to STDs or an unwanted pregnancy. “It’s better to be educated than to have kids go out and keep spreading STDs and not be smart about it,” said senior Cole Harris.