There is news out of Massachusetts this week that the Provincetown School Board has decided to revise their controversial plan to make condoms available to children as young as 5 years of age.
Of course, revising an immoral policy without fully addressing the root cause of the objection can sometimes amount to patching a screen door on a submarine.
As originally drafted, any child in Provincetown schools could have requested a condom and received one without a parent ever knowing of the transaction. Oddly, Superintendent Dr. Beth Singer appeared a bit perplexed by the firestorm that emerged once the policy was announced.
Appearing on ABC News, she insisted that although the policy would have technically permitted condom distribution to kindergarteners, such concerns were baseless and irrelevant.
“What would they do with it?” she asked incredulously. “Make a balloon?”
Under the newly revised plan, condoms will still be available to students in grades 5 through 12. On the positive side, parents will have a right to opt-out or “exempt” their child from the condom program altogether.
When a story of this nature makes the news, reporters tend to flock to Main Street to grab a few sound bites of public reaction. Predictably, the vast majority of those polled strongly objected to the program.
“I think it’s pretty sick,” said one father. Others were a bit more diplomatic. “Too young!” was the common refrain. “Just too young!”
But is a student ever old enough to receive a “free” condom in a public school and particularly without their parents’ consent? Setting aside a clear, unequivocal and principled objection to condom distribution in the public schools, I’d like to make two encouraging observations from this otherwise disturbing story:
- The spirited outcry from parents in liberal Massachusetts, the vast majority of its parents and citizens can recognize the sheer absurdity of talking with little children about sex and condoms
- Encouraging parental involvement is always a good thing. Moms and dads who were otherwise detached or unaware of this new policy are now aware of the controversy. The school board is now being watched more closely and carefully than ever before.
But what to even make of this overall?
There are always going to be those who support condom distribution programs based upon support of the so-called “safe-sex” curriculum. Their arguments are predictable: Kids are curious, and it’s better to be prepared and protected than panicked and pregnant.
Such logic fails to take into consideration that the only entirely reliable safe-sex method is—and always will be—abstinence. By encouraging condom use, officials are opening kids up to a world of hurt and heartache. Condoms are not fail-safe and their use does not ward off the spread of many sexually transmitted diseases. Sadly, statistics reveal that we’re currently facing an epidemic of infected teenagers. In addition to physical realities, there is also the inevitable emotional pain and heartache that accompanies pre-marital sex.
Moreover, I wonder what has come of those of us committed to protecting the art and innocence of childhood. At a deeper level, talk of exposing small children to condoms is deeply troubling. Do we not owe our kids our best effort to shield them from the wickedness and harshness of a world that sometimes seems to have gone absolutely mad?
Our faith calls us to raise our children in the admonition of the Lord, and we do this by first protecting their hearts and minds.
Of all life’s seasons, childhood is the most brief and most precious of them all. There are times when I can hardly believe how quickly our boys have grown. If I close my eyes, I can still see Trent and Troy as infants and then toddlers. We can’t stop the clock, but we can do our best to shield them from bad policies that are based upon bad logic and immoral principles.
One last related thought.
There was news over this past weekend of ceremonies marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. At the time of his passing, much was made of his eccentricities, to put it mildly: exotic animals and an amusement park with a Ferris wheel in his backyard. His life was marked by a seeming refusal to grow up.
Experts now believe that Michael Jackson never “grew up” because all of his life he longed for the very thing he never had—a childhood. He began performing as a 5-year-old and never received the opportunity to experience the usual joys of typical boyhood. As it was, he would spend his entire life searching for the life he never lived.
If we’re not careful—if we expose our kids to themes as mature as the politics of condoms, might we wind up doing the same thing?
I am grateful for the renewed emphasis on child safety these days—of helmets and airbags and the like. But what are we doing to protect our children’s hearts and minds?
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