Colorado: Task Force Recommends Providing Contraceptives to High School Students
October 31, 2007
This week, a 43-member task force recommended that health clinics in Denver Public Schools (DPS) high schools be permitted to distribute condoms and other forms of contraception to students. The task force -- composed of medical, state and city officials, and parents -- was charged with examining clinic services at 12 city schools. Its recommendations have the support of some parents and teachers, one school principal said.
"We're in the process of talking about the pros and cons," said Jeannie Peppel, who runs John F. Kennedy High School. "It's really coming from the parents and from the school community."
Figures from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show the birth rate for Denver teens ages 15-17 is 56.6 births per 1,000, more than twice the statewide rate. Currently, DPS refers students who request contraceptives to Denver Health's community clinics, but officials say many teens do not follow up.
Adams County School District 14, which includes Commerce City, in 1989 became one of the first districts in the country to distribute condoms in high schools. District spokesperson John Albright said every student who receives a condom is also given a pamphlet or talk about abstinence. "Someone speaks to them," Adams noted, "and says, 'We are going to give you these condoms, but you should know the only surefire way to prevent HIV transmission and AIDS is through abstinence.'"
Denver Archdiocese spokesperson Jeanette DeMelo urged parents to challenge the task force's recommendation. "To offer birth control would facilitate an atmosphere of sexual license among students," she said. Lolita Hanks of Colorado Right to Life agreed. "That is not the purview of the schools. It will encourage more sexual activity," Hanks said.
Michelle Moss, a member of the DPS school board and the task force, said she did not know when the board may vote on the recommendations.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.