Some California teenagers can receive a packet of 10 condoms and “personal lubricant” from a program co-sponsored by the state Department of Public Health and the California Family Health Council.
Launched on Valentine’s Day during “National Condom Week,” the Condom Access Project – CAP for short – is aimed at reducing the transmission of sexual diseases among 15-year-olds to 19-year-olds “by ensuring that California youth have access to free condoms year round,” the council says in a press release on its website.
The program, whose slogan is “Put a Cap on It,” drew an angry reaction from Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, a non-profit group that advocates on family issues.
“It is shocking that a web site partnering with California government agencies funded by our tax dollars is so blatantly undermining the parent-child relationship,” England said in a February 21 email blast.
“Why would our state government encourage teens to have sex when they aren’t emotionally prepared — and equip them to do so behind their parents’ backs?”
“We know from research that significant barriers to condom access remain for youth. They cost a lot, youth are uncomfortable asking for them, and in some areas free condoms can be hard to find,” said Julie Rabinovitz, the council’s president and CEO, in a press release. “CAP breaks down those barriers by providing free condoms to teens in a way that is both confidential and teen-friendly and meets them where they are – online and at home.”
Free condom distribution programs increase the use of condoms and don’t increase sexual activity, the council says.
Teens in Alameda, Kern, Sacramento, San Joaquin counties and parts of San Francisco — counties with high rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among 15-year-olds to 19-year-olds – can go online and confidentially request a package of 10 condoms.
In addition to the condoms and the lubricant, the teens will also receive information about pregnancy prevention and sexual diseases.
The council also has established a website, TeenSource.org, where teenagers as young as 12 can sign up for condoms as well as get birth control advice and information about their privacy rights.
As part of the Condom Access Project, the council says various “youth-serving organizations” across the state will be sent “regular shipments of condoms” that will be available at no cost to teens who visit their websites.
A searchable map on TeenSource.org will help teens find locations.
The site does note, in bold, that “abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method to prevent (sexually transmitted diseases) and pregnancy.” But, the site says, if a couple is going to have sex, condoms should be used.
“Sexual activity affects teenagers’ physical and emotional health and should therefore involve parents on such an important matter,” England says. “The fact that teen-targeted groups like TeenSource.org go out of their way to exclude parents and encourage teenage sexual promiscuity should raise an alarm for every parent in California.”
CAP is modeled on a condom distribution program in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called, “Take Control, Philly.”