New York City started a similar condom distribution program in public schools more than a decade ago and Underwood says the program has been successful.
The school district cited a 1997 report published in the American Journal of Public Health. The report showed that New York City’s public school students, who had access to condoms in schools, were five percent more likely to use condoms during intercourse than students in Chicago who did not get condoms at school. Sexual activity among high school students in both cities were nearly the same (NYC, 59.7 percent; Chicago, 60.1 percent).
However, critics suggest that sexual activity among students would rise if given easy access to condoms. Underwood says data from New York City doesn’t show that sexual activity increased once condoms were in schools.
Underwood says he understands why the issue is so controversial; however, he and the district strongly believe CAP is necessary in Rochester.
“If we can prevent one child from contracting a STD or having HIV it's absolutely worth it,” Underwood said.
Jean Carroll, the President and CEO of the YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County, says there are about 600 new teenage pregnancies each year in Rochester. She adds that in 2010, the Monroe County Department of Health found that 45 percent of all the new HIV cases in the county were among teens and young adults ages 15 to 25.
RCSD will make robo-calls to parents on Monday to remind them they can still “opt out” their children if they wish. So far, of the 8,000 students who are eligible to receive condoms, about 160 have returned the “opt out” forms.
The district plans to collect data to see if the program is helping lower the rate teenage pregnancies and STDs among the student population.
According to data complied by the Metro Council for Teen Potential, in 2011, teen birth rates were at a ten-year low with 470 girls ages 15 to 19 giving birth. The average number of teen births between 2002 and 2011 was 581.