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Catholic high school teacher
Mar 1, 1998

I am a Catholic high school teacher and want to help inform my students about AIDS. I know that some of them are sexually active and I am told that I can't talk about condoms. What do I do? Sue, Chicago

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear Sue,

Thanks for your question -- I was a teacher and principal of a Catholic co-ed high school in the mid-eighties when I experienced the same difficult question. I always believed that I should answer a student's questions honestly and directly -- if you or I as a teacher don't raise the issue of condoms, they inevitably will. Therefore, I would suggest not raising the issue of condoms yourself since that might be unacceptable in your school --- however, I would answer questions about condoms honestly if students bring them up. Moreover, I think that the prevention issue is more than condoms and clean needles -- it is about self worth and creating an atmosphere in the classroom and home where young people can bring their questions and needs and have them responded to with respect and care. Also, I think that most parents want their children to be informed and safe as well as encouraged and supported in delaying sexual relations and living the discipline of the Church. I found that it was good to communicate with parents about the challenges and risks around HIV/AIDS and encourage them to be informed and talk with their children -- and us as teachers about how to respect the gift of their lives and make healthy choices. I hope that you would speak with the administration of your school about parent education on raising children in challenging times.

Thanks for your ministry and concern.

Blessings, Fr. Rod



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