Catholic educator warns after condom giveaway to teens

A Catholic education leader is sounding a note of warning after an experiment in giving condoms to teens in a college was hailed as a success.

The chief executive of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, Br Sir Patrick Lynch, spoke about an experiment at James Cook High School in south Auckland.

Condoms were given to teens as young as 15 as they went on study break for their end of year exams in 2011.

According to an article on the Stuff website, the experiment has been deemed so successful in terms of lowering teen pregnancy rates that researchers are calling for the approach to be rolled out at schools across the country.

The article reported Br Sir Patrick saying parents should be told if condoms are being given to teens as young as 15.

“It’s skidding on thin ice if they are not telling parents,” he said.

“We’re not talking about 30-year-olds or 20-year-olds, we’re talking about minors.”

When it comes to reducing teen pregnancy rates, parents and schools must work together, he said.

“You must build a trust environment with the parents.”

The condom give-aways were prompted after James Cook High discovered 12 of its girls returned to school pregnant after the summer holidays in 2011.

Three Auckland University nursing students came up with the idea of distributing the free condoms, which were put inside sex education pamphlets.

Among the advice given in the pamphlets was information as to where to get the morning after pill.

Now, four years later, no teens have returned to decile one school pregnant after the summer.

And the school’s NCEA academic results have improved by 30 per cent since that time.

But principal Vaughan Couillault said there’s more to the academic improvement than a minor intervention in sexual health guidance.

He said the school provides a range of services, with quality teaching being the main driver behind student achievement.

James Cook High has an on-site health clinic offering sex education advice.

New Zealand has the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world.


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