School condom drive stirs sex worries

2012-10-19 11:46

Johannesburg - A drive that would put more condoms in South Africa's classrooms has critics warning it will only stimulate sexual activity, a charge Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says is unfounded.

The great roll out has begun. After much planning, South Africa's government has launched a wide-ranging programme to give children from pre-school through pre-university a better chance of staying healthy as they begin to engage in sex.

Few would argue it is unwarranted.

South Africa, with a population of around 50 million recorded about 94 000 unplanned teen pregnancies in schools last year, of which 77 000 ended in abortions. In addition, one in every 11 people is infected with HIV.

The programme includes childhood immunisations and teaching about safe sex. But it is the handing out of condoms that has grabbed attention and sparked fury, with sceptics uncomfortable that it may force children into early sex.

Tempting children

"We need to think from a child's perspective. When you give a child a toy to play with, for example a toy gun, there's expectation in the way they will use it," said Stanley Makhitha, a Johannesburg-based child rights activist.

"Children who are not having sex may be tempted to have sex because they can see that condoms are there."

Against this kind of reaction Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is battling to defend the scheme, which he says is about providing preventive health care especially for children from impoverished backgrounds who lack the most basic facilities.

"We are not going to go to schools, line up pupils and distribute condoms," he said, rather, if children ask for contraceptives, including condoms, "we will meet that demand".

"If a young person comes asking for services, including condoms, nobody expects us to refuse. They are just coming out in the open to say they are sexually active."

Other countries

But opposition is vociferous. Cheryllyn Dudley, an African Christian Democratic Party lawmaker, accuses the government of "panicking" in its approach to contain the spread of HIV and teen pregnancies.

"The experience of other countries indicates that condom distribution encourages a culture of casual sex and risky sexual behaviour," she said.

Launching the scheme last week, President Jacob Zuma acknowledged "that this subject makes parents uncomfortable. But we have to face the reality that some learners are sexually active".

LoveLife, a South Africa youth HIV prevention has dismissed as "misplaced" fears that the ready availability of condoms could push up sexual activity among school goers.

"Essentially studies have found that the only effect it has on sexual activity is to make it safer, it doesn't actually increase the amount of sexual activity, it doesn't bring sexual debut earlier," said LoveLife director Scott Burnett.

In the end school governing bodies will have a final say in whether to make the condoms available in their schools or not, spreading the debate across the country.

  • MarcelKotze - 2012-10-19 11:55

    Just show them a video of a actual birth scene, graphical as possible with all detail of a normal birth. Problem solved.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-10-19 12:16

      Even better: make them parent a teenager for one day. Best contraceptive ever.

      mario.dippenaar - 2012-10-19 12:21

      Pregnancy... The worst STD of them all. Maybe they should ban life jackets, because it leads to risky behavour, such as swimming and could lead to drownings.

      kenpeg.dawson - 2012-10-19 12:31

      Panodo is still best contraceptive on market. Take one tablet and place between knees and keep it there.

      rbphiri - 2012-10-19 13:26

      Our government can provide condoms but fail to provide books! Further evidence to reinforce how "intelligent" they are perhaps. Rather provide government officials with those condoms, because they doing all the screw ups in this country.

  • Andrea - 2012-10-19 12:00

    I'm not sure in what country it is a regular occurrence to have sexually active PRE-SCHOOLERS !! That is aged 5-6, am I right? What is wrong here, apart from the obvious, i.e. non-delivery of basic education to a youth/generation pre-occupied with the development of their genitals?

      bond.ndalo - 2012-10-19 12:26

      @ Andrea...condoms from pre-school...that is shocking.

      gareth.coats - 2012-10-19 13:13

      They are not providing condoms to pre-schools. The journalist has touched on, but not unpacked adequately, that there is a comprehensive package for schools. So, what this means is that preschools will be better equiped to deal with issues of sexuality, and probably abuse. We all know that daily, preschool aged children are victims of sex crimes - the department, from whet i can understand, is going to provide materials and capacity to teach young children about their rights and what they can do to protect themselves. Not handing out condoms. This is going to be run by the department of health, not education. Also, it will be up to schools to have the final say.

  • KeenanMag - 2012-10-19 12:03

    This is just reality. It would be religious leaders to throw a tantrum and get every single fact completely and utterly wrong, make parents worry and hinder progress in health efforts and science/sex education. It would be a scientific body to point out all the facts, studies, etc. and provide reliable information. Objectively.

      Desilusionada - 2012-10-19 12:48

      "When you give a child a toy to play with, for example a toy gun, there's expectation in the way they will use it," said Stanley Makhitha, a Johannesburg-based child rights activist." At worst a toy gun can fire blanks...... The necessity of condoms for pre-schoolers might not be debatable, but the fact that it must be done is sickening..... It evokes a spectre of child abuse that might be much more prevalent than thought???? Any qualified person who could oblige with facts?....

      KeenanMag - 2012-10-19 13:45

      I agree with what you say, Desilusionada. However, we're not dealing with child abuse vs. thought. We're dealing with the lesser of two evils: the unfortunate thing of exposing young kids to condoms and sex vs. risk them being sexually active and falling sick and eventually dying from HIV and/or other STI's. It a sickening decision, but I know which one I'd prefer. Educate them. Make resources available to them.

      Desilusionada - 2012-10-19 14:13

      Your are missing my point Keenan. I am no expert, but I somewhere seem to remember that sexual acting or acts or imitations by a preschool child could be indicative if sexual abuse. So therefore, IF some statistic makes it necessary,(as a results of specific instances of a sexual nature), that pre-school children needs to be given condoms, then this country has a big problem.

      sian.ferguson2 - 2012-10-24 11:23

      Desilusionada, reread the article. No pre-schoolers will be getting condoms. The article instead talks about sex education from pre-school age, (e.g. teaching children that nobody should be allowed to touch their genitals, etc) which is necessary and has been going on for years. It was, however, quite an ambiguous statement - an error on the journalist's part.

  • kapilh - 2012-10-19 12:16

    Provide them with the much needed books first.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-19 13:20

      . The ONLY way a book is going to prevent hiv-aids and unwanted pregnancy, is to tell the girls to keep a book between their knees !!!!!

      lorain.maseko - 2012-10-19 14:58

      Provide both,the books will have nobody to read them when half the school is on maternity leave.

  • stirrer.stirrer - 2012-10-19 12:17

    Free condoms should be issued to ALL citizens. We are being screwed by government on a daily basis.

      Andrea - 2012-10-19 12:29

      vaseline too?

  • bond.ndalo - 2012-10-19 12:24

    Condoms fro pre school......HUH....*its shocking*

  • lorna.sisusa - 2012-10-19 12:27

    It would've been better if they can deliver textbooks 1st then condoms after.. Despite students are being sexually active, but that doesn't mean there ain't no alternative options to deal with this mayhem. From what I know school is meant for learning not to train porn-stars. If you gonna give them condoms, that means you encourage them to do more.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-19 12:32

      . So, if there is a fire extinguisher, hanging in the passage, some kid is going to make a fire !?!

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-19 12:29

    . Not only a good idea, but actually criminal not to do so. We live in a country with hundreds of thousands, if not a few million, of hiv-aids sufferers!!!!!! Teach children who are sexual active : SAFE SEX !!!!! And the notion that a teenager is going to have sex, because there is a condom available, is nuts!!!

  • kenpeg.dawson - 2012-10-19 12:29

    What percentage will be used for safe sex compared to water bombs and balloons

      Andrea - 2012-10-19 12:45

      Those would be the pre-schoolers.

  • polite.mkhonto.3 - 2012-10-19 13:04


      kenpeg.dawson - 2012-10-19 13:10

      nose candy not good for kids.

  • tiaan.truter - 2012-10-19 13:18

    show them detailed videos of STD's ect and how a condom isnt can also fail...promise you some people will think twice.

  • joshua.t.thomson - 2012-10-19 13:57

    Trust the Jesus jammers to be up in arms...

  • Ntobane Setabola - 2012-10-19 14:42

    They must teach Zuma first about safe sex.\r\nWhen they started puttin warnins on cigarette packs,most young kids started smokin. The same applied to condoms n teenage pregnancy n multiply HIV spreads.\r\nDon't wonder they gon distribute guns to our kids next year to teach them bout preventin violence.

  • Balungile Bhalithafa - 2012-10-19 15:06

    having been a life orientation educator for the past six years and having seen how our learners after having been taught everything they need to know about abstaining and using contraceptives yet still manage to fall pregnant from as early as in Grade 5( standard 3). I support the idea of giving the condoms.

  • winifred.watson.9 - 2012-10-19 16:39

    These school kids dont want to use the condoms. Their cant enjoy a sweet with the paper on. I say its time to stop the grants, the school kids are doing this to obtain a grant, then afterwards the child is dumped on the family to support while missy ejoys the money. Government is just encouraging them to have babies, yes provide the condoms but if they dont use them and fall pregnant they will be responsible for that child and no grant available. This is an incentive to woman and young girls who need to be more responsible, the are free clinics who provide the pill, injections so no need to fall pregnant, there is also the morning after pill. Why dont we supply an alcoholic with free liquor, it amounts to the same.

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