Condoms for Learners: A defence strategy, not passport to sex
The distribution of condoms in schools is one of the controversial approaches to reducing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies among teenagers in Southern Africa, which has been met with mixed feelings.
Namibia’s ruling SWAPO Party’s youth league, at one of its meetings a few years ago, suggested that condoms be made available to teenagers across the country, including primary and secondary schools.
The SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) based its recommendations on research findings that access to condoms does not increase sexual activity but does increase condom use. It also based its recommendation on investigations that show how well condoms can prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies.
Religious and moral arguments are that availing condoms at will, will not help prevent unwanted pregnancies or discourage sex but learners will be tempted to use them since they are just handed to them ‑ implying that engaging in sex at their age is ‘okay’, which should not be.
Many antagonists of the approach believe that since a lot of teenagers are engaging in sexual activities, they will engage even more when condoms are handed out to them, and those who have never done it before will end up doing it.
Their argument against condom distribution at school ties in with the Bible teaching regarding sex before marriage.
It says that sex is a way for a husband and wife to express their love for one another. Yes, “husband and wife”. God did create sex to be a beautiful and enjoyable expression of love, but only between husband and wife.
On the other hand, proponents of availing condoms to students have likened the move to the same way as having a loaded gun, merely for self-defence for a soldier.
They, therefore, argue that in the same way, having condoms in school is safe-defence mechanism for learners but not permission to engage in early sex.
Our children have to contend with various temptations throughout their life journey and availing condoms to them is a way for them to navigate those challenges.
Parents are not always around their kids and kids often act differently when they are away from home or when parents are away.
Various studies have concluded that teenagers that have access to contraceptives, such condoms, have sex later than their peers who were not exposed to sex education earlier.
Researchers noted that kids who live in an environment that is supportive of their sexuality instead of hostile to it may be more inclined to use oral sex and mutual masturbation in order to delay intercourse, whereas kids who do not have a good idea that those are options might rush into intercourse first.
I am against moral arguments that distributing condoms at school is condoning sex among children. This is not true because life is about making choices.
When it comes to the law, moral viewpoints often clash. When it comes to children, however, there is one value that trumps everything: the safety and well-being of societies, especially youth.
So, let us try and make condoms available at school because that is the only way we can reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies, which can cause psychological trauma, death, economic burden, and other issues.