Photo credit: Robert Elyov (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Robert Elyov (CC-By-2.0)

I have to admit that I was shocked when I read a recent Vox article. I wasn’t shocked by what it said, but I was shocked that the liberal publication would run this story – “Study: schools that give away condoms see more teen births, not fewer.”

Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman of Notre Dame University wrote The Incidental Fertility Effects of School Condom Distribution Programs for the National Bureau of Economic Research and they concluded that schools who distributed condoms to their students saw more pregnancies not less.

I’m not surprised by this because reality tends to be biased toward social conservatism.

Sarah Kliff writing for Vox writes:

In the early 1990s, with panic over the AIDS epidemic rising, hundreds of school districts began making condoms more accessible to students. The hope was to encourage students to practice safe sex and better protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.

A new research paper suggests that decision may have backfired. It finds that access to condoms in school led to a 10 percent increase in teen births. The effects were concentrated in schools that offered condoms with no required counseling. Those schools also saw that gonorrhea rates for women rose following the condom programs.

It’s possible that teens did engage in riskier behavior with the condoms available. Or teenage girls might have decided to use the condoms — which have an especially high failure rate — instead of birth control pills, which are more effective at preventing pregnancy. The research paper isn’t able to answer why teen births went up in the areas where schools gave out free condoms. But it does call into question some of the unintentional side effects of making the contraceptive more freely available.

Twenty years of youth ministry experience tells me that free condoms led to increased sexual behavior. I don’t see girls who were already taking birth control pills, and all that those entailed, would suddenly stop to instead use condoms. From my experience with some teenage boys I know I do see condoms being used for the purpose illustrated below.

Photo credit: Vladimir Klimontovich (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Vladimir Klimontovich (CC-By-2.0)

This is just an example of yet another failed policy.

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