Should we be giving teens condoms?

teenagers condoms group socialising

I don’t think there is a parent on the planet who wouldn’t cringe at the thought of their 12 year old having sex. And so when our education department proposes to hand out condoms to kids aged 12 and up, without any parental consent needed, we may feel a little uneasy. It is understandable that many parents oppose this idea, regardless of the thought processes behind it.

And yet, just because kids having sex makes us uncomfortable does not mean that it isn’t happening. And I’m not just talking about lower class, uneducated youth either. Just last year there was a case in a very wealthy neighbourhood where a family tried to immigrate to Oz and on doing their final medicals discovered that their 11 year-old daughter was HIV positive. It turns out she and a group of her friends were having sex with the security guards in the complex where they lived.

We like to assume it isn’t happening and if it is happening it isn’t in our neighbourhoods or our schools or with our children.

We have to get our heads out of the sand

Teen pregnancies are on the increase in South Africa and we have one of the highest HIV rates in the world. Teenagers are sexual by their very nature and by making sex taboo or keeping it as an unspoken in our homes and schools, we are not helping them to deal with the very real pressures and dangers that they are going to face in the real world.

I applaud this move by the education department. Around the world there is evidence that having more open, relaxed conversations with teens about sex, by supplying them with contraceptives and helping them to understand how and why to use them, and giving them the opportunity to explore their sexuality safely reduces teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions. This completely contradicts the fears that most parents have that if they start handing condoms out to kids that there is going to be more teen sex and all the issues that go along with that.

Nobody is running around encouraging children to get it on with each other. The department of education is simply looking at the facts and taking action. And the fact is…
Kids are going to have sex whether we talk about it or not.
Kids are going to have sex whether we want them to or not.
Kids are going to have sex whether we educate them on it or not.
Kids are going to have sex whether we supply them with condoms or not.

Giving teens condoms mixed group or youth laughing

Let’s do the right thing and make sure that if they have sex they are able to do this safely and that they understand the risks involved. Let us give our children both condoms and the education that goes along with that. An educated, aware child has a greater chance of survival than one who is kept in the dark

Handing a child a condom does not ensure that they are going to have sex. But not making condoms available ensures that if they do have sex the consequences are much more likely to be tragic.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, and would like to stay updated with more, you can:


Mia Von Scha

Mia Von Scha

Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

7 Responses

  1. Are we also telling our kids that condoms do not guarantee protection from all 35+known STD’s? And do we also emphasise equally that they have the option to abstain? That they can make that choice? That it is possible. Or do they only hear from us that they are going to do it anyway?

    1. Hi Christene.

      You make a very valid point. Hopefully someone from the department of education can comment, but I think the idea was to roll out the free condoms along with sex ed classes that would cover all of the points you mentioned. I hope so! As parents I think we also need to take responsibility for having these conversations with our teens.

      I would add to that that ensuring that your teens’ self worth is intact is just as important. It is much easier to abstain if you are not trying to bolster your self esteem or searching desperately for love.

      Thank you for bringing this up!

      1. Hi Mia. I agree. Unfortunately the majority of parents can barely say the “s” word in front of their kids. It should not be a foreign topic. Appropriate and sensitive sexuality education so crucial in schools, especially because very soon those same students may be the very parents who need to have the same conversations with their own children. Parenting skills should also be part of the education experience at school, should fit under Life Orientation in gr 11-12. That’s where I would start. If kids had a better idea of the sacrifices that parenting entailed, they might also think twice when it comes to taking chances. X

  2. Thanks for your comments. It is great to see that the general consensus is for empowering our children. They may, of course, make mistakes along the way, but if they know that they have open and trustworthy adults who believe in them to chat to it is more likely that they will pull through!

  3. I completely agree, I was very frank when having the sex talk with my son. I covered topics of STDs and the reason why boys have sex vs the reasons why girls will. It surprised me that it was needed at 11 years old!

    He is now 15 years old, and I will often bring up the topic of sex – talking about sexting, sharing naked pics and the legal repercussions. Honestly he hates these talks but he knows he will always get a straight answer from me. I have now bought a stash of condoms so there is now no excuse for having unprotected sex.

    He can now make informed decisions. Still hoping he waits a little longer – not that I know either way if he has or has not.

  4. Thanks Mia. The evidence is clear: Sexuality education, access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraceptives and condoms, results in fewer early and unplanned pregnancies, and less new HIV infections.
    Let’s give our children a fighting chance. Even with treatment being available, having HIV is far from easy; and it is costly! the state still has to pay for the drugs.
    Sadly it is the parents/communities that resist even the good initiatives from the state

  5. A clear educated view.

    The only part that scares me is that we are still discussing this 30 years later.
    This should have been implemented decades ago.

    It is not about encouraging children to have sex. But to protect them from STD and long term consequences called having children. I had my first child at 37 and am still unsure if I was old enough. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Stay updated, subscribe to the free Jozikids newsletter for parents in Gauteng.

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Unsubscribe anytime.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Stay updated, subscribe to the free Jozikids newsletter for parents in Gauteng.

We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Unsubscribe anytime.
Send this to a friend