The distribution of condoms in schools isn’t as alarming as the Church and its allies make it out to be, though it does represent a more proactive government finally implementing the Reproductive Health Act on the grassroots level.
Church leaders have warned about the distribution, saying they will step up protests to pressure local officials and schools not to accept these condoms to be distributed by the Department of Health (DOH) as part of a national strategy to avoid AIDS and teenage pregnancies.
The DOH recently backtracked from their position, saying they will review the plan, but it remains to be seen if the planned condom distribution pushes through as scheduled next year.
While there is a point to the Church’s position that condoms may encourage sexual promiscuity, the most effective strategy to prevent this is through the families of which the Church, the community and the schools wield the heaviest influence, not necessarily in that order.
Left out in the reports over the condom distribution is the fact that it will be allocated to the clinics whose medical personnel won’t give them out so easily. It is simply part of the so-called “business unusual” strategy of government to stem the tide of AIDS cases which have reached 38,114 nationwide as of latest count.
School clinics also give counseling to youth on safe sex, a topic the Church prefers to replace with abstinence which is in accordance with its teachings but is not being followed by a growing majority of youth who contract AIDS as early as 15 to 24 years old based on latest DOH data.
In the face of this reality, the government is resorting to distributing condoms which may be vehemently opposed by the Church but may provide a safer alternative for the youth who need both counseling and education to enable them to make better choices and exercise responsibility over their behavior.
And try as much as they would oppose it, the fact is that the Reproductive Health Act allows government to provide alternatives to Filipinos both young and adult that would protect their health from sexually transmitted diseases and prevent unwanted pregnancies.
While the president and the local officials are seen as parents by society, the task of guiding and providing counsel to these children squarely lies on the parents who also need to be reminded by those closest to them about their role to teach their kids about sexual responsibility.
In an ideal world, parental guidance alone would work, but the cases of AIDS and unwanted pregnancies suggest otherwise.
The government has provided options which the Church is strongly opposed against, but at least it has given people a choice which hopefully would reduce the incidence of AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.
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