SANTA CLARA: Condom Program Aims To Halt Teen Pregnancy, STDs
In what is believed to be the "first such program in California aimed" at reducing teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, "Santa Clara County teens will be able to buy 25-cent condoms from about 100 machines" in locations frequented by teens. The condom dispenser program is being sponsored by the nonprofit, Washington, DC-based Project Action, which develops programs to "encourage young adults and teens to act responsibly when it comes to sexual behavior." "Supported by about a dozen local agencies," the project "has the approval of San Jose and the county to approach businesses and agencies about installing dispensers in restrooms and plans to approach local school districts as well." The machines will be placed in "teen centers, record stores, clubs, libraries and gasoline stations," the San Jose Mercury News reports. Project Action has launched similar programs in Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA.
Pros And Cons
Project Action coordinator Anthony Marek said, "We cover abstinence in our workshops as the only way to guarantee that you won't get pregnant or an STD. But for kids who are sexually active, we are giving them a way to make a healthy choice." However, Carmen Pate, president of Concerned Women for America, which is also based in Washington, DC, said, "It's so sad that we are at a point in our society where we treat young people like animals who can't control their sexual urges. We are giving teenagers a tool that is supposed to protect them from pregnancy when we should be giving them a tool to be able to say 'no' to sex." According to Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, a recent survey found that about 30% of the area's high school students are sexually active. Of those teens, "43% said they did not use condoms." Fenstersheib said, "One reason the students gave us for not using condoms is that they were too embarrassed to buy them or didn't know where to get them" (Kato, 4/30).