Outrage over condoms for kids

Basic Education’s plan for 10-year-olds ‘could encourage promiscuity’

EASTERN Cape parents and schools have slammed government’s proposal to make condoms available to primary school pupils.

The Department of Basic Education earlier this month published its Draft National Policy on HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB), which seeks to address infectious diseases in the basic education sector, including all schools.

The department’s spokesman, Elijah Mhlanga, said the focus was on health as they were concerned about how many young people died or suffered as a result of infections.

The draft policy deals with a number of issues, including access to education, counselling and treatment, safety and security in workplaces and learning institutions and the availability of condoms to all – school staff and pupils included. Mobile clinics are expected to provide the service.

Elacia Whittingham, director of educational support and development at the Proactive Education Group of South Africa, said the draft policy was “very insightful” and suggested a “well-balanced approached to dealing with HIV/Aids, TB and STIs”.

The draft policy indicates that all participation is voluntary.

“Access to male and female condoms [barrier methods of contraception and sexually-transmitted disease control] and information on their use will be made available to all pupils in the basic education sector, as well as educators, school support staff and officials,” it reads.

But schools and parents interviewed by Weekend Post believed condoms were not the answer.

Jonathan Liss, St George’s School’s campus head and headmaster of the preparatory school, said he was “taken aback, horrified and concerned” when he first heard about the draft policy.

“It is just bizarre that it could even be considered. It sends out the wrong message. We should be educating kids instead of handing out condoms,” he said.

“I also believe that handing out condoms promotes promiscuity.

“Kids become more aware and they might want to experiment. And at a certain age, sex is illegal. We definitely do not [agree with making condoms available to pupils].”

Sapphire Primary School principal Bruce Damons said he had “ambiguous feelings because I know our kids are sexually active from a very young age in our community”.

“To save a life on the one side, it [making condoms available to pupils] makes a lot of sense.

“On the other side, will it encourage promiscuity?”

Damons said schools were not equipped to implement the draft policy as they already had so many issues, particularly in the city’s northern areas where Sapphire is situated.

He said Sapphire had age appropriate sex education for Grade R to Grade 7.

Mhlanga said interested persons or organisations had 21 days from the date of publication – May 5 – to submit comment on the draft policy in writing to the department.

By this week, they had not received one.

“That’s the sad part,” he said.

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