The Springfield School Committee adopted a new initiative aimed at reducing the amount of unintended teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among teens. The committee’s 4-3 vote on April 5, 2012 will allow Springfield, Massachusetts’ public middle schools and high schools to make condoms available to students via the school nurses or health clinics. The initiative will take effect on September 1, 2012.
Students will be able to request condoms from the school nurse or health clinic, at which point they will also receive counseling as well as information about abstinence and how to properly use and store condoms. Parents will have the option to sign a form that would prohibit their child from receiving condoms..
Springfield is not the first school district in Massachusetts to institute a condom availability program, with Provincetown establishing a program in 2010 and Holyoke in 2005. Both the Provincetown and Holyoke programs allow any student to request condoms from the school nurse or health clinic, and provide students with counseling and information on how to properly use a condom.. Springfield’s, Holyoke’s, and Provincetown’s condom initiatives respond to data reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which show that sexually active students do not always use condoms. According to the report, 46% percent of high school students stated having had sex and only 61% of those stated using a condom.
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse reports that the condom availability program has had broad success since it began in 2005: “Not only has the policy destigmatized the subject of birth control and contraception, it has directly contributed to the sharp decline in the number of sexually transmitted infections among students over the past five years.”.
In its advocacy efforts, the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy also highlighted the benefits of nationwide school-based condom availability programs, citing studies from the American Journal of Public Health and the Guttmacher Institute:
- Massachusetts students who had access to free condoms from their schools were twice as likely to use condoms during their most recent sexual encounter
- Students who attended schools in New York City and Philadelphia with school-based condom availability programs also showed an increase in condom use among those who are sexually active but no increase in sexual activity.
Those in Springfield hope for similar results, as the city has the second highest rate of Chlamydia and gonorrhea and the fourth highest rate of teen pregnancy in Massachusetts. In addition, 28 percent of Springfield 7th graders and 51 percent of Springfield 9th graders reported having had sexual intercourse in 2010.. Many have applauded Springfield’s adoption of the new initiative because it acknowledges and seeks to reduce the serious impact from STDs and unwanted teen pregnancies on the young people. One parent blogger, Amber Doty, who supports the condom availability initiative commented, “I want my child to be as safe as possible and that includes teaching him about and providing him with the means to practice safe sex.”.
 “Springfield approves school condom policy,” The Boston Globe, 6 April 2012, accessed 23 April 2012, <http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2012/04/06/springfield_approves_school_condom_policy/>.
 “Springfield Committee Approves Giving Condoms To 12-year-olds At School,” Associated Press/CBS Connecticut, 6 April 2012, accessed 23 April 2012, <http://connecticut.cbslocal.com/2012/04/06/springfield-committee-approves-giving-condoms-to-12-year-olds-at-school/>.
 Kate Dailey, “‘Condoms for Kindergarteners’ The Smart Policy Behind the Dumb Headline,” The Daily Beast, 24 June 2010, accessed 23 April 2012, <http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/blogs/the-human-condition/2010/06/25/condoms-for-kindergarteners-the-smart-policy-behind-the-dumb-headline.html>.
 Peter Goonan, “Springfield School Committee prepares to vote on condom policy as Holyoke program marks 7 years,” Mass Live, 4 April 2012, accessed 23 April 2012, <http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/springfield_school_committee_p.html>.
 “Springfield Public Schools Considering Condom Availability Program,” Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, 29 March 2012, accessed 24 April 2012, <http://www.massteenpregnancy.org/about/news/springfield-public-schools-considering-condom-availability-program>.
 Facts: Springfield (Massachusetts: Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, 2011).
 Amber Doty, “Why I Will Give My Middle Schooler Condoms,” Babble, 30 March 2012, accessed 23 April 2012, <http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/03/30/why-i-will-give-my-middle-schooler-condoms/>.