The Importance of Condom Availability and Sexual Health Services
In honor of STD Awareness Month, NCSD has asked colleagues across the country to contribute articles on various topics related to STD prevention, testing, and treatment.
DC Youth Advisory Committee, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education
April 4, 2016
Condoms being available in schools can be an extremely important part of many young people’s lives.
Many students want to be sexually active, but they aren’t ready for a child and, of course, don’t want to get an STD. Condoms being located in schools provides for students who otherwise wouldn’t have access.
There many reasons a student might not have access to condoms. For example, some parents are very strict and want their child to abstain from sexual activity. Other students might not be able to afford condoms. In school, students are allowed to receive an unlimited amount of condoms for free. Purchasing condoms can also be embarrassing for young people. Many students say that picking up a few condoms from school is much easier than going to the store because no one “looks at you funny.”
Think about this: if students want to engage in sexual activity, but they don’t want to buy condoms on their own and there are no condoms in their school, they might have unprotected sex. Having condoms in school helps prevent pregnancy and STDs because it gives students a stress-free environment to receive condoms.
In addition, no one is born knowing how to properly use condoms; they have to be taught this information. As previously mentioned, many parents don’t want their child to participate in sexual activity, so they won’t teach them how to properly use contraception. At school, when students are given a condom, they are also taught how to use it properly so they can prevent pregnancy and STDs. Condoms are only effective if they are used properly. Giving students condoms in school allows them to receive the accompanying education that will then allow them to make safe decisions for themselves and their partners.
Lack of sexual health information can lead students to make bad decisions that can impact their health and their futures. There is a lot of push back against including sexual health services in schools—principals cannot find the time and parents are not comfortable with the topic. But the fact of the matter is that kids our age are sexually active, and many don’t know what they are doing.
The best way to mitigate the issue of ignorance is to provide sexual health services that help youth feel comfortable asking for condoms and advice in a safe space where we know no one will judge us.
Such services also give students the opportunity to learn about sex in a controlled environment rather than just having to go out and learn about it from their own experiences. They can learn about sexually transmitted diseases and infections, how to have safe sex, how to prevent uncomfortable sexual situations, and more.
The school nurse can be a great provider of sexual health service. She/he can deliver health information, help students find locations to get tested, hold awareness activities such as school health fairs, and, of course, make condoms available.