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Condoms in grade school!?

Historically, Massachusetts has been a bastion of liberalism, but providing free condoms for grade school students?  Without informing their parents? Without parents being able to stop the distribution? Ridiculous.

This doesn’t even count as an abdication of responsibility. This is assuming a whole new responsibility that has no place at all in a grade school. A school’s only duty here should be to report immediately to parents that their child inquired about condoms. Don’t get me wrong; I think condom distribution in high schools is a good thing. Probably in middle school, too. But grade school? Seriously?

From the report, it sounds like the policy was established by the superintendent and school board of a single Massachusetts district. What were they thinking? I assume at least some of them are parents, but clearly someone lacks the judgment to be making policy for children. When Gov. Deval Patrick called and complained, Superintendent Beth Singer said she would “revise” the policy. Still, I have to wonder how the school board came up with such a policy in the first place.

I know kids these days are maturing much faster than a generation ago. Or, from my perspective, two generations ago. And a lot of them probably get into things I don’t want to know about at ages I don’t want to contemplate. But I have to wonder, do children this age even know what condoms are? Wouldn’t most kids be more likely to make water balloons out of them?

I know I’m getting old and increasingly out of touch. But I do have a grandson starting third  grade this fall. And at no time in the next four years do I expect him to learn what a condom is, much less need to ask his school, in confidence, for a free one.

Update, June 25, 2010

In a follow-up to the story, the Boston Globe reports today that the Provincetown schools never intended to distribute condoms to younger grade schoolers, but were not excluding fifth- and sixth-graders. Massachusetts does not regulate school condom programs, but does suggest guidelines — that the policy be restricted to high school students and that parents be allowed to exclude their children from the program. The school committee plans to meet again to consider rewording their policy to make it clear that younger children will not be given condoms.

The district may or may not tighten their policy and it’s not at all clear where they will draw the line — age-wise — at providing condoms in confidence to children requesting them. As a parent, I would find this very disturbing. Minor children of any age should not be getting condoms or sex education or counseling without parental notification and permission.

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