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Study: School Condom Availability Does Not Promote Teen Sex

A study in last week’s American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) reported that teenage sexual activity did not increase when schools made condoms available. Susan M. Blake at the George Washington School of Public Health and Human Services said despite charges that condoms in schools promote teen sex, “[c]ondom availability was not associated with greater sexual activity among adolescents but was associated with greater condom use among those who were already sexually active, a highly positive result,” according to Kaisernetwork.org. Evaluating data from a 1995 youth risk behavior survey of 4,166 students enrolled in Massachusetts schools (where the state education department suggested schools consider condom-availability programs), Blake found that 49 percent of students attending schools without condom availability admitted to having sex. Of that group, 56 percent used condoms the last time they had intercourse.

In contrast, at schools where condoms were available, a lower percentage (42 percent) acknowledged having sex but 76 percent of that group said they used condoms their last time. Roughly 20 percent of the students interviewed attended schools where condoms were available. Two studies released last month on adolescent sexual attitudes and behavior revealed that 20 percent of teens under the age of 15 have had sex; 30 percent of young people experience pressure to have sex; and more than 75 percent of teens want more information about sexual health.

Sources:

AP 5/29/03; Boston Globe 5/29/03; Kaisernetwork.org 5/29/03; AJPH 6/2003