WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

Should Condoms Be Distributed In Schools

Condomat,-photo- lh6.ggpht.comAntigua, St John's- If as a teacher, I give out condoms in schools, will I be encouraging promiscuity? Taking the power of transmitting values to children away from their parents?

Costing the education system more money? Sending mixed messages?  Supporting safe sex?  Steaming the tide of HIV/AIDS? Combating teenage pregnancies or safeguarding morality over saving lives?  These issues were brought to the fore when the Antigua Daily Observer on Tuesday March 1 published an article under the caption, “Minister of Education Says No to Condoms in School.”  

The Hon Minister of Education and Gender Affairs Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro was at the time responding to a suggestion put forward by the co-ordinator of the St Lucia-based Educational International Organization, Virginia Albert-Poyette, at a Regional Teacher Trade Unions Workshop. One of the aims of the workshop was to conduct an evaluation of a five-year project on HIV and AIDs and Education for All. Albert-Poyette felt that as part of the battle against HIV/AIDS, condoms should be given out to school children.

Challenges

I am in full support of the Minister on her unshakeable stance that condoms should not, and will not be distributed in schools across Antigua & Barbuda. If the suggestion is simply to give school children full access to condoms in isolation of a holistic sex education programme, then this exercise is worthless. In fact, condom distribution will have no impact in the fight against HIV and AIDS. According to Kirby (2000), there are three main controversial approaches to reducing rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy among North American teenagers, namely: abstinence-only programmes, safer sex education, and making condoms available in schools.


Even if one argues for the idealism of school being solely about education, this is simply not the reality. Antigua & Barbuda, and the rest of the Caribbean for that matter, are part of a changing landscape. Things that are happening in the Caribbean today sexually are not things that I ever felt I would have lived to see. Sex is all around us, television ads, movies, strip clubs, gay and lesbian clubs, openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender couples. Just take a look at the number of young ladies who are having babies very early. As of December 2010, the AIDS Secretariat in Antigua reported an increase in HIV/AIDS of 65 cases, with 90 percent of the infected falling between 15-49 age group, and of that number the majority are women between 15-34 age group. The Caribbean now has the highest number of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the world. We cannot ignore this problem or allow it to flourish by being rigidly moralistic.

I know that sex is more often on the minds of school children than education is. While I know the need for sexual experimentation is not confined to school children, rightly so, sex should be on school children's minds. It is an integral part of their bodily functions and emotional cravings. Part of growing up is learning how to manage one’s sexual energies and to direct those powerful emotions to healthy outlets - swimming, exercise, community service, organised religious activity, sports etc.


The distribution of condoms must be filtered through a set of discerning criteria that exclude primary schoolers and act as protective measure against indulgent adolescents. This process may also be tied to parental alerts so that parents can seek either professional help, pastoral counseling, or psycho-therapeutic intervention as they seek to influence their children with desired moral values. This is very important, especially in those sensitive years when school children’s hormones act like a runaway train, and preaching abstinence is neither safe nor good enough.

The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs states that abstinence-only programmes may delay sex, however a large number of youths are already sexually experienced and need the knowledge, motivation, skills, and access to condoms and contraceptives to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies.

What this implied is to say No to condoms without offering a credible alternative intervention programme is in essence to say yes to behaviours that are likely to destroy school children’s chances at living a successful life. It is unjust that the school system should not find more practical, ethical intervention to encourage their journey towards personal development and responsible citizenship.

Solutions

“The only natural resources that Antigua & Barbuda has are its people.” These words were wisely spoken by the late Father of the Nation, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird.  If education keeps us learning, sorrows keeps us humble, and success keeps us flowing, then our children should keep us human.


Perhaps what is needed in Antigua & Barbuda and the Caribbean school system is to educate our adolescents about sex and sexuality as part of our regular school curricula - a lesson plan that goes far beyond the human biology of naming the parts of the body and the sexual reproductive system. Sex and sexuality must be openly addressed in our schools, from intercourse, childbearing and child-rearing, to sexually transmitted diseases. A salient point we seem not to remember is that education is much broader than mastering subject content –English, math, history, geography, biology, home economics, woodworking, chemistry, and the whole regiment of CXC requirements. Schools are to be about equipping students with life skills intelligence, so that they can develop sound judgments, practice ethical behaviour, attain self-fulfillment, act as responsible citizens, and maximize spiritual aspirations. Hence, subject matter must bridge the gap between theory and practice, or our schools will be graduating adults who are children.

Add to that moral education, self-discipline, and practical strategies of avoiding situations where saying no to sex becomes almost impossible. As a person who works in the helping profession, I have met countless teenagers who honestly don’t have a clue about the addictive nature of sex, about their own sexuality, about the destructive nature of sex to life and dreams, or about the proper context of sex, which is a stable, loving committed intimate relationship -- better known as a healthy and mutually fulfilling marriage.

More tragic is the observation that if and when school children become victims of early pregnancies (usually occurring because of poverty, delinquent influences, and exploitation by promiscuous adults), most island school systems do not make alternative provisions for them to complete their schooling. I see this travesty as one of the gravest vices committed under the cover of virtue. Saying no would not change injustice.

The Ministry of Education should also look to partner with its counterpart, the Ministry of Health, to develop and implement a school-based health centre whereby condoms can be dispensed by the school nurse. The student would have to request a condom from the school nurse, and that student would have to listen to a brief lecture on safe sex. Condoms in school are nothing new, as many school districts around the world have already grappled with this controversial policy since the 1990's. When our school children have become fully armed with sex and sexuality education, they will be in a better position to make sound decisions that will increase their chances at success in life.  


Bear in mind some very stark statistics underscore this problem. For each of the 65 new cases of HIV/AIDS in Antigua & Barbuda, to get a better picture of how many persons who could be actually walking around with HIV/AIDS, knowingly or unknowingly, we would have to multiply each person infected as having five sexual partners. Hence, the number of persons infected would jump from 65 to 325 in 2010.

Given this situation, the minister of education is correct -- we cannot just give away condoms in school without first educating the nation’s only natural resources. We have to do everything within our power to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Parents, pastors, community leaders, politicians, journalists, and educators should join our children in preparing to be part of the solution.

I am not suggesting that only saying yes to condoms in schools is the panacea. I know that if we simply say no to condoms, we would be multiplying the problem, not solving it. I believe that distributing condoms in school is an act of saving grace rather than promoting promiscuity. I encourage our education administrators throughout the Caribbean to take Albert Einstein’s counsel seriously: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."

Dr Oswald Thomas holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies in Human Services. Dr Thomas currently workers as a Clinical Behavioral Consultant and formally with Beacon Therapy Services as a counseling therapist serving consumers with Mental Health issues and Mental Retardations.  Dr. Thomas has also a Professor at Metropolitan College of New York, Audrey Cohen School for Human Services and Education and the Graduate School of Management and The College of New Rochelle.

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24 Comments In This Article   

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an engg student

#24 RAVI » 2011-10-13 22:50

as a teenager i would prefer to impart sex education and with demonstartion ...i do believe that use of condoms in schools will make the students aware about the STD and safe sex around us as at the teen age around 20%of girls and 30%of boys do get indulged in sexual activities so to make it safe it cud be really a good move by our govmnt and authorities.....but if we see on other side what we are giving condoms why bcz it is needed .....is it really needed....i dont support it all bcz its the adolscent age and they are the the verge and growing ,machuring and different types of chemical changes taking place inside....so we shuld teach them about sex education not let them use so that the ejaculate every time whenever thwy need it..it will make make them weak and cant able to have a self control on them.....so plz DONT USE CONDOMS IN SCHOOL ...IT WILL BE IN FAVOUR OF GROWNUPS........
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RAVI

teach the youths right part 4

#23 Atilla » 2011-03-31 15:30

We all know how live stages go. At age 5 your parents are the smartest and know everything, at age 10 my parents no something but my teacher knows everything. At age 15 my parents don’t know nothing my teachers and friends know everything. At age 20 the world is crazy these old people know nothing we will change the world. At age 40 my parents knew what they were talking about. At age 50 my old folks used to say.!!!!!!!!!.
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Atilla

teach the youths right part 3

#22 Atilla » 2011-03-31 15:30

Girls that get pregnant at an early age are most of the time dating older men. Hardly ever it involves a man of her age. That said you would then think that the man should have been more responsible. But men usually are not. We would even lie to say we have not come and have pulled out before the ejaculation. With that back ground I believe the education on schools should be very detailed and extensive so that the young minds are prepared for the challenges and peer pressure that live brings. Cause each of them will have to deal with peer pressure one way or the other. And only and strong foundation will allow them to stand. And whether that foundation is provided at home or at school is not that important, however the school is the best place as kids are more open to received teachings from their teacher then from their parents.
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Atilla

teach the youths right part 2

#21 Atilla » 2011-03-31 15:28

Sex was openly discussed without shame or any hurdles. What is a climax? And a woman and her periods (menstruation)or those other things. Pictures were shown of penis and vaginas and sexual deceases men and women could get. Why use condoms and how to use it was demonstrated. The use of the birth prevention pill, cause young girls should not get pregnant so early. At that time we had no concern for aids. I don’t think it was known at all. Just the usual herpes (STD). Those pictures made you so scared you would really think twice of having unprotected sex. Thinking back I felt strange but nevertheless I was better prepared and know what I was getting myself into when I had my 1st sexual experience. That saying my female counterpart was more knowledgeable then I was. She knew exactly what to do and how to do it. As they say girls mature faster than boys. But guys would not like to admit this.
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Atilla

teach the youths right part 1

#20 Atilla » 2011-03-31 15:27

I am a father of two boys and one daughter. They are far apart. When the boys were in their teens I was waiting for the right moment to have the father to son talk. I don’t remember when it happened but time just past and I never did have the talk. However sometime later I got the opportunity to ask the question are you guys’ sexually active and using condoms. They made me feel stupid to have asked that question so many years too late. The schools (in Europe) had already done the talking for me. I am now raising a daughter and she is just entering her teen. And I of course think this is a now a mother’s duty to have a mother and daughter talk, but of course slowly but surely I’m getting worried to know my little girl is getting big and soon boys will come around and boys do what boys do. When I was that age, growing up in Europe without a father the school also took care of the father to son talk, just like with my sons. The experience was a weird one.
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Atilla

Educating adolescent.

#19 Rj » 2011-03-21 01:16

I believe educating our teens on the use of condoms, offering a course in school on sex education is a start. Let's not leave this entirely up to the education system to educate the adolescent on sex.. It has the start from home. Educating our young people on the consequences and the responsibility of sex should start with a discussion from their parents. That means letting your teen know that pregnancy is a possibility, Hpv, Hiv, herpes, etc..... With a teen pregnancy for a young adolescent girl her chance at pursuing her education is over unless she is properly educated and lets not forget about the young adolescent boy. Preventation is better than cure.
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Rj

why stop there

#18 Heaven's Little Devil » 2011-03-16 06:55

Why stop at condoms? They are bound to be influenced to smoke weed so let's give them pipes so they don't consume the paper in their lungs while smoking weed!!! Then we can't forget about the ones who want to take heroin we can give them needles so they don't catch aids also.
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Heaven's Little Devil

STD dating

#17 Mark » 2011-03-10 16:48

If you have been recently diagnosed with positive, you may be upset and confused and think your sex life is over. However, it's not the end of the world, and it's not the end of your social life. You are not alone! Check POZmingle. com. Many cities in the US and around the world have herpes/HIV/HPV social and support groups that you can join to meet others who are in the same situation.
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Mark

@ Antigua Abroad

#16 my way of helping » 2011-03-10 14:11

You are so welcome and you are a good blogger. Respectful. If i need to know something i can ask you and you the same.
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my way of helping

Family Life Project

#15 Colleague » 2011-03-10 13:33

Dr. Thomas,

I would have liked you to have referenced your experience as a teenager when you attended a series of sessions at the Family Life Project on Old Factory Road. To what degree did that experience influence your life since... and how to what degree did it impact your thinking 32 years later?
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Colleague

RE: Should Condoms Be Distributed In Schools

#14 Antiguan Abroad » 2011-03-10 13:31

Tenman & My Way of Helping, Thanks for educating me on the lack of proper sex ed in the Antiguan school system. I have not lived there for a long time and did not know.

Uncommon Sense, I did not know whether the minister had tempered her position of 'No' to condoms with some of the points the author suggested in his piece (since I had not read the article that he referenced in the Observer). That said, it seems to me that he is not in "full support" of her position.....or did your brilliant ageless mind decipher some other "nuance'? LOL
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Antiguan Abroad

RE: Should Condoms Be Distributed In Schools

#13 Antiguan Abroad » 2011-03-10 13:13

Uncommonsense, If it has not been obvious from all of my posts, let me clearly let you know that political posturing is not what I am about....so stop with that line of crap. I agree with most of the author's points, by the way. Overall, nice piece.
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Antiguan Abroad

@ Tenman

#12 my way of helping » 2011-03-10 12:14

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, Leave the condom on the line ha ha ha ha ha. Remind me of the joke where they told the man he should wear a condom like this, they used a bottle to demonstrate and told him, he would not have children if he put the condom on like this and everytime the man had sex, he would put the condoms on the bottle (not on him) in hope, his lady (wife) would not get pregnant ha ha ha ha ha.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, really we do need to accept the fact that education and preparing is the way to go, not just doing one and omitting the other.
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my way of helping

@Antiguan Abroad et all

#11 tenman » 2011-03-10 11:53

Antiguan Abroad I graduated in the late 80's from Princess Margaret Secondary and there was no class or program in the school which spoke of AIDS or STD's. The only reference I recall to sex was in biology class where the book depicted the picture of the vagina. I recall back then a buddy would tell me he knew how to figure out if someone had HIV by simply seeing how slim they were. Even the general society, back then, itself had problems with it came to sex education because I recall Dr. Ramsey telling a story of a man asking him how long he needed to leave the condom on the line to dry.

..
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tenman

Solid stuff

#10 UncommonSense » 2011-03-10 11:48

Doc, I thought you shared the exact circumstances under which you agreed and disagreed with Jacqui's say NO to condoms in school. The minister did not offer any other position than saying NO. You even showed how the dangers of simply saying NO and demonstrated that saying YES requires a holistic approach. Do you think Antigua Abroad missed your point or can't read the nuances of your thesis quite well. Perhaps having finished school 30 years ago might be contributing to limited understanding. Why bolster the minister myopic position with political posturing except the agenda is academic spinning for political tricks. Great article doc
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UncommonSense

@ Antigua Abroad

#9 my way of helping » 2011-03-10 10:53

Honestly, i do believe there is no real sex and STD education in Antigua and Barbuda. I graduated secondary school in 2000 and we did not hear or see anything about these topic, unless may be someone was caught doing something, having sex.

There was a program in primary school, every tuesday when you are in junior 5 (grade 6) about to take the exam, that tells you about sex and aids briefly but it was only because they were going to ask you in the common entrance exam the questions. This was the only education i got on sex, last quarter of being in junior 5, after that never again.
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my way of helping

RE: Should Condoms Be Distributed In Schools

#8 Antiguan Abroad » 2011-03-10 09:24

I attended school in Antigua over 30 years ago (before the advent of HIV/AIDS), and I remember that sex education was taught at my school....albeit on a limited basis (it was a Catholic school). I find it hard to believe what the author is saying is true....that there is no pertinent education in public schools on sexual matters in school, particularly in this day and age. If it is true, then that is sad commentary on the primary function of the school system (to educate) and should be corrected forthwith. But I am confused by the author's position...He says he is in "full support" of the education minister with respect to her position on no condoms in schools, yet concurrently he he seems to support a position on circumstances under which condom distribution may be feasible. Is this also the minister's position? Just curious.....
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Antiguan Abroad

@ Skyewill

#7 my way of helping » 2011-03-10 08:20

Some Good things happening? I have not seen, heard, smell, touch, taste any new good things but i will take your words for it. I am going back home, you know who I can talk to about financing my study in Barbados, so i may join the bar in Antigua and Barbuda?
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my way of helping

"Commendable position." part 2

#6 Dr. Isaac Newton » 2011-03-10 01:28

The influence and power of sex during the adolescent stage merits a much more complex intervention of 'life- skills intelligence' than preference for a heavenly response that contains little earthly value. With understanding and support, parents, teachers and spiritual leaders can equipped our children to become successful adults. Due to the fact that sexual promiscuity is so prevalent amongst a vast majority of our political leaders, our children can’t look to most of them for example and model. Educators must rethink the false seperation of education and sex in school.
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Dr. Isaac Newton

"Commendable position."

#5 Dr. Isaac Newton » 2011-03-10 01:27

Dr. Thomas you have highlighted all of the hard issues informing this debate by providing a solid holistic argument for your position. This is commendable. As part of the Christian tradition, the Bible offers a provision for our transgressions without authorizing our sins. Christians are still call to live a life of righteousness yet, there is an advocate with the Father when that ideal is not met.

Similarly, it is not enough to simply say YES or NO to condoms in schools. Morally responsible educators will be moved with compassion both to uphold the ideal of abstinence while teaching the glories and horrors of sex and sexuality. If we affirm that we are wonderfully made, then we must find meaningful ways to integrate the sexual with the sacred. Otherwise our children can end up with identify confusion, developmental delays, and shattered lives.

continue...
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Dr. Isaac Newton

Sigmund Freud

#4 Skyewill » 2011-03-10 00:24

The Id: this is the "natural" or entirely instinctual brain we are born with, our strictly animal brain, corresponding more or less with what p**s sometimes call "the reptile brain" (basal ganglia). It's drives the self toward sex and aggression. I am not saying to distribute condoms in school. I am saying sex is basic instinct and it has concequences. We must do something not just talk about it. Education is a must and if the need to get condom to the kids who are having sex some kind of way. @ My way, I think politicians are listening more than you think and there are some good things happening in Antigua.
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Skyewill

CONDOMS

#3 A PARENT » 2011-03-10 00:13

NOW COME ON PEOPLE ARE YOU ALL SO RIGHTOUS, I THINK CONDOMS SHOULD BE GIVE IN SCHOOL AND THEY SHOULD BE TEACH HOW TO USE THEM FROM AS EARLY AS 13YRS OLD...IF YOU DONT THINK YOU WANT YOUR CHILD TO BE GIVE CONDOM....THEN STOP YOUR CHILD FROM USING THE INTERNET WATCHING TV AND LEAVING YOUR HOME ONLY TO SCHOOL AND BACK HOME, WHICH MEANS YOU WILL HAVE TO TAKE HER TO SCHOOL AND PICK HER UP, BECAUSE NO MATTER WHERE THEY TURN ALL THEY ARE SEEING IS SEX, LOOK AT HOW PEOPLE DRESS EVEN IN CHURCH COME ON PEOPLE THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, GET REAL
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A PARENT

RE: Should Condoms Be Distributed In Schools

#2 Devil's Advocate » 2011-03-09 23:38

Lets all sing

give me me condon give me condom...all students come and sing along
give me me condon give me condom...Let me show you how being in school can be fun

when me go to school i go to do me best....give me a condom and I aint have to do no test
Everything I do I will pass with flying colors....nothing then will give me parents horrors
No big belly, no STD...give me condom from these I will be health free
From infant one straight up to fifth form...since from all levels a nuff things a gwaan

give me me condon give me condom...all students come and sing along
give me me condon give me condom...Let me show you how being in school can be fun
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Devil's Advocate

Good topic Mr. Thomas, are you related to me, my mother is Thomas?

#1 my way of helping » 2011-03-09 23:08

Should we give condoms out? yes. Why? because sex occurs most often before class, in class and after class. By who? students. Should we educate them about not having sex, about disease and emotion consequences of such actions? yes. But should expect all to listen? no. How do I know all will not listen? because as a student, graduated secondary school in 2000, a person was in school talking about AIDS/HIV and all the consequences of having sex but then, after school, some students went ahead indulge in some according to them intense sexual action. Are we to ignore this fact that student will ignore our advice? No.

As SKYEWILL mentioned, I haven't had sex enough to notice ha ha ha, that sex is sweet so people will be compelled/enticed to have a lot of it and frankly, as we may notice with our politician, they never listen, so why will our students listen.

I am not alp nor am i upp but i am for the people, striving to be Godly. Only love will let you see, really see.
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my way of helping

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Dr. Oswald R. Thomas

Dr. Oswald R. Thomas Dr. Oswald R. Thomas is a Certified and Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist / Psychotherapist with the American Board of Hypnotherapy, the International Association of Counselors and Therapists, and the International Board of Medical and Dental Association. He is founder of the Thomas Center Human Development, Inc. and serves on Bronx Mental Health Committee, served on Community Board #5 in the Bronx, and the Bronx Neighborhood Planning Committee as Chair of the Youth Committee. With a Ph.D. in Psychology, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies in Human Services, Dr. Thomas is a counseling therapist/Behaviorist, and Professor at Metropolitan College of New York.

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