Friday, April 15, 2011

Free condoms for 11-year-olds?

A new website from the Philadelphia Health Department has parents on edge.

A new website from the Philadelphia Health Department has parents on edge.

Philadelphia, which has the largest rate of sexually active teens in the country, is looking to make its lovemaking a little safer - even for kids as young as 11.

The city's Health Department's controversial new program offering free condoms for sexually active people 11 and older has parents wondering how young is too young to start talking about sex.

The new program launched a teen-centric website, takecontrolphilly.org, with tips on safe sex, information about STDs and animated videos on how to use condoms.

While the site's information isn't controversial, or new, the easy availability of free condoms that have caught many people's attention.

"Playing it safe just got easier," the website reads. "If you live in Philadelphia and are between the ages of 11 and 19, you can now have condoms mailed directly to you for FREE.

"Maybe it's difficult for you to stop by one of our sites to pick up condoms. Or maybe you're just shy or feeling weird about picking up condoms."

Officials, while admitting 11 may be early, pointed out that studies show kids that young are having sex. A recent study showed that 37% of teens aren't using protection, the Philadelphia Weekly reported.

City officials admitted they were a little queasy about the program

"Clearly, we don't think it's okay for 11-year-olds to be having sex," City Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz told NBC Philadelphia.

"But we don't have the infrastructure in place to fix problem fast. We can, however, make condoms available fairly quickly to whoever needs them."

A similar program in New York City offers free condoms - with no age limit listed on the website.

Los Angeles offers discounted condoms for mail order. While there's no age limit listed, users must have a credit card.

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