Condoms and 12 year olds…

I woke up this morning to the following headlines on CNN:

  •  “Free condoms for 12 year olds”
  • “Morning-after pill OK at age 15”
  • “5 year old shoots little sister with his birthday rifle”

Ok, so this may be America and have little to do with our kids back here in Singapore. I’m sure most of us are sensible enough not to give a loaded rifle as a birthday present to our ah-boys, and neither will we encourage our kids to consider a morning after pill an alternative.

But interestingly enough, I found myself struggling to put a clear answer to the question of whether or not free condoms should be made available to 12 year olds.

Maybe 12 years old is too close to 13. If contraception, and knowledge of contraception was made available in secondary schools, perhaps there wouldn’t have been such fanfare. Is the one year chasm the definition between children and teenagers?

Condoms are generally used for sex.  Now that we have established that fact, we can safely ask the next question – what business does a 12 year old have having sex?

In a legal perspective, most countries seem to agree that the age of consensual sex be pegged at 16. Most religions prohibit sex until you are married (which in modern days occur at later ages). So since the moral and legal grounds are covered, don’t you think that parents could focus on more pressing matters?

Well, let me introduce to you two very influential beasts known as “curiosity” and “media”. Whatever the age, whatever the willpower, whatever the discipline, exposure to either of these would drive you to things that you’d normally never do.

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(as if on cue, this appeared on Facebook)

Nevermind the penetration (ahem) of liberalism into children’s television, our public visual space is the ad man’s playground. For better or worse, you have to agree with me that today’s marketing material carry a lot of sexually charged material. I’m old enough to have seen how fashion, advertisements and media have evolved over the past 30 years. I’m amused to recall back in the 90s, my father made such a big deal out of mini skirts and bikinis. Today he didn’t even bat an eyelid when I showed him a Victoria’s Secrets iPad application (research, it was for research!)

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(Now, now Elmo, staring is rude…)

Like it or not, your kids are going to find out there are more uses for their tool other than peeing. We can repeat the abstinence message ad-nauseum, but it is hard to win the war with curiosity and media.

The condom is an insurance. Insurance from grief more than anything else.

What age do you think is appropriate for humanity to start learning of its existence?

 

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