Editor’s Note: The following guest post was brought to us by Jessica, a senior at Arizona State University studying public relations. She is a communications and marketing intern at Planned Parenthood Arizona, championing for women’s health.
Valentine’s Day is synonymous with many things — candy, hearts, roses, to name a few. What it’s not heavily associated with is National Condom Week, but it should be. Created in the ’70s by college students devoted to spreading the message of safe sex, National Condom Week has made tremendous strides in the last few decades to encourage young adults to take charge of their sexual health.
Society’s aversion to open discussions about sex and birth control methods is counterproductive. It has long been proven that abstinence-only education simply does not work, and yet 26 states are currently disillusioned by thinking that focusing on abstinence is the best solution to sex education in schools. As a result, the United States has the highest teen pregnancy and teen STD rates of any industrialized country, with teen pregnancy being the highest in states where abstinence-only policies are practiced.
It is time to embrace the integral role that condoms play in maintaining sexual health and preventing unwanted pregnancies. It shouldn’t be taboo to advocate for safe sex. It is a disservice to teens and young adults to bypass education on all of the birth control options that are readily available. The idea that doing so somehow promotes promiscuity is nothing more than a cop-out, and an overused one at that.
Schools are not solely responsible for this much-needed conversation, though. Sex education only goes so far. Fostering a safe environment where questions regarding condoms and other birth control methods are not discouraged is crucial. A 12-year-old will have significantly different questions about sex than a 17-year-old. The “sex talk” isn’t one talk at all — it’s an ongoing conversation and the heart of it will change over time. National Condom Week presents the opportunity to discuss birth control openly and honestly — whether it is between a parent and her child or a man and his partner.
Valentine’s Day might be the perfect day to talk about sex … Show the person you love that you care about his or her health.
Condoms are available in Planned Parenthood health centers, as well as from some community health centers, drugstores, supermarkets, and vending machines. Learn more about National Condom Week — and how to get your hands on free condoms in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson — here!