Chicago is Wrong on Condoms for 10-Year-Olds
Chicago keeps making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Earlier this month, Chicago Public Schools announced that it would be making free condoms available in schools, beginning with children in the fifth grade. In case you're wondering (or too old to remember), fifth grade is still elementary school, and fifth graders are typically 10 or 11 years old.
Kenneth Fox, M.D., described in a Chicago Sun-Times article as "CPS' top doctor," was quoted as saying that the decision to make condoms available to fifth graders was "informed by a developmental understanding of children."
Most 10 and 11-year-olds have not even gone through puberty. They do not have secondary sex characteristics. And yet, according to Fox, these children are developmentally capable of having sex and of making the responsible choice to use a condom during sexual intercourse. In fact, he says as much in the article: "Young people have the right to accurate and clear information to make healthy decisions."
So, a middle schooler having sex qualifies as a "healthy decision"?
Fox is not the only one tossing the word "health" around. Scout Bratt, the outreach and education director at Chicago Women's Health Center, described public schools as "community health centers essentially," and the provision of condoms as "invest(ing) in young people's health."
Statistics make clear just how absurd that statement is.
According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sexually transmitted diseases hit a record high in 2019. STDs create significant health concerns, including transmission of HIV; infertility and ectopic pregnancy; heart and nerve tissue damage; and antibiotic resistance. Young people (ages 15 - 24) now represent half of all new STD cases, including two-thirds of new chlamydia cases. Gonorrhea is becoming increasingly resistant to treatment; Blacks have gonorrhea infection rates more than seven times that of whites.
And that's just the impact of disease. Teen pregnancies and corresponding single motherhood contribute to a vicious cycle of other societal pathologies, including multigenerational poverty (much more difficult to remediate than situational poverty), crime and incarceration; all of which affect Black Americans at greater rates than whites. Black men are roughly 7% of the U.S. population, but 34% of the prison population.