SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Condoms for middle-schoolers. It's a new policy that Springfield Public Schools has approved but it's not going over well with some parents.
Condoms may soon be available for students as young as 12 in Springfield Public Schools. The School Committee voted 5-1 in favor of this new policy in an effort to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
"Where they've instituted this program the incidence of not only sexually transmitted diseases but sexual activity itself have decreased," said Vice Chair of the Springfield School Committee Christopher Collins.
Springfield has the 4th highest teen birth rate and 2nd highest sexually transmitted infection rate in the state and it's happening to students who aren't even teens yet.
Cindy Miller from Tapestry Health said research shows 27% of 12 year olds in Springfield have reported having sexual intercourse. That number jumps to 51% by 9th grade. "The thing is that 12 year olds are sexually active so we didn't make up an age, we're looking at an age that we feel the need starts," said Miller.
"Under this new policy a student would be able to walk into the nurses office and request a free condom but at the same time they would be educated about abstinence, how to use a condom as well as the consequences of having sex."
But not all parents are on board. Sarah Bower who's a parent in Springfield said, "I don't think that's a good idea right now, I think when they get a little older maybe high school not that young, I don't think that's a good idea, I wouldn't want them giving them to them."
But others say it is a reality that parents have to face. "I really don't agree with it but these days that's how they is, a lot of young ones out there are experimenting with it," said Henry Smart of Springfield.
This policy however does allow parents to opt out. The School Committee will vote again before the policy gets final approval.