A government scheme being piloted in Sunderland is handing out free condoms to thirteen-year-old children, without their parents knowing. What a sad reflection on modern Britain.
Schoolkids, missing some of the healthier pastimes of growing up – playing soccer in the fresh air or developing tactical skills with games like chess – are being encouraged to apply for a card that gives them free contraceptives. Even worse, for those of us who believe in family values, they can hide their intended promiscuity from their parents – a kind of government official juvenile secrets act.
I can understand, even appreciate while regretting, the reasons for it. We see too many examples of kids having kids on some TV programmes. Children, too young and still at school, cannot appreciate the difference a baby would make during the years they should be out with their friends, enjoying their youth and preparing for adulthood. What a shame that some kids can’t be children.
Sometimes the fault lies with parents. Some pushy mums of girls who like to dress their little darlings up, even encouraging them to use make-up, before entering them in little girl’s beauty contests. Kids who’ve not even reached puberty, being conditioned – missing their teenage years by thinking they’re already glamorous young women with modelling careers in the offing. No wonder their thoughts also turn to grown-up sexual experimentation.
The girls of course, are stuck with the results. The teenage father, who doesn’t earn the money to help raise his baby anyway, can just walk away – perhaps to hunt for new conquests. That usually means the young mother’s own mum and dad forking out and raising their own grandchild, but it’s not fair to just blame the children and irresponsible parents.
Today we’re surrounded by a sex-obsessed media. Newspapers, ‘adult’ magazines, films, video and TV screens are full of near naked female flesh that leaves little to the imagination. When I was at school we’d get excited at the accidental glimpse of a girl’s knickers, without even knowing why. Other than a sneaky peak at Dad’s News of the World on Sundays, our most salacious reading was Health and Efficiency – a magazine which featured nude photos.
It wasn’t until we left school, that the potential of a cuddle in the back row of the Odeon began to outweigh the attractions of football and cricket and we started having different fantasies. One of our ‘gang’ (the Mild Bunch) nicked his mum’s lipstick. Not to wear himself but to smear onto his shirt collar so he could lie to us, bragging about the new girl he’d taken home from the Ilford Palais.
It was the same with contraceptives. After our ‘Tony Curtis’ trim, barbers would ask if we wanted anything for the weekend, but we were working teenagers before we knew what they were talking about. The chemists sold them too, but if a girl came forward to serve, we invariably finished up with a packet of aspirins or a new toothbrush, but that was one of the best things about our National Service.
In the Navy and I presume with the Khaki Kids and Brylcreem Boys too, whenever you went ashore you could pick up some free condoms in the guardroom. They weren’t dished out to prevent local population explosions, but the other unfortunate results they showed us films about. Painfully explicit pictures showing what sexually related diseases can do.
Then it was just the traditional ones but nowadays we have others like HIV as well, so the protection condoms offered is as important as ever. The pill might stop pregnancies but not the clinical problems and in that sense handing out free condoms to kids is a ‘better safe than sorry’ option. But both they and their parents should be educated about the risks by seeing those films we’d had to watch.
Parents should not be kept in the dark – unless they’re watching those films with their kids.