Philly Gives 11-Year Olds Free Condoms But Won’t Treat Their STDs

Logo for the new Freedom Condom, one million of which will be given away to kids as young as 11 years old
Logo for the new Freedom Condom, one million of which will be given away to kids as young as 11 years old

Last week, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter launched what the Philadelphia Inquirer called “Philadelphia’s biggest new campaign against sexually transmitted diseases” in 20 years.

It’s called “The Freedom Condom” — apparently because they couldn’t come up with a more cruelly ironic name — and the city is giving them away free to kids as young as 11 years old (see screenshot here).

Condoms can even be requested by mail. All a Philly resident needs to do is check a box that says, “I affirm that I live in Philadelphia, I am between the ages of 11 – 19 years old, and I am making this request for myself.”

At a City Hall news conference announcing the new program, the city’s Health Commissioner, Donald Schwarz unwrapped one of the new Freedom Condoms and declared, “We need to show kids that we touch these things,” or else “they will never believe that it is appropriate and normal to use them.”

Your Tax Dollars at Work

The whole idea is so absolutely barking mad, it’s hard to know where to begin. Oh, and did I mention who’s picking up the tab?

We are.

The Inquirer article describes the campaign as a “relative bargain: $30,000 for the first run of 200,000 custom-labeled packages, with that and the remaining expenses for an expected distribution of one million condoms paid by a federal grant.”

Yes, you read that right: $14 trillion national debt be damned, the federal government is shelling out money so 11-year old kids in Philadelphia (not to mention any other city resident who’s willing to lie about his age) can get free condoms.

“Everything” Kids Need to Know about Condoms?

Philadelphia’s free-condoms-for-kids program is being promoted through TakeControlPhilly.org, a website run by the city’s Department of Public Health. Under the “Protect Yourself” section of the site appears this message:


Let’s parse this advice:


And let’s face it, sex is more fun when you’re not worried about getting pregnant or getting an STD.

Have you ever noticed how those who believe in so-called “comprehensive” sex education, offering condoms to kids, etc., will inevitably claim that by so doing, they’re not actually encouraging kids to be sexually active, but just giving them “information” and “resources”?

But when you read a message like, “And let’s face it, sex is more fun when you’re not worried about getting pregnant or getting an STD” — well, you be the judge.

Abstinence is the only way to avoid becoming infected with an STD or getting pregnant.

You won’t find a more textbook example of “lip service” than that. Because look at what follows:

However, condoms are highly effective at preventing STDs. If you feel you and your partner are ready to have sex, it is important to use protection every time. That means using a condom – and using it right.

In other words, what they’re saying is: abstinence is good, but condoms are almost as good.

Learn everything you need to know about condoms on these pages.

Everything you need to know? Not so much.

For but one example, from the “Know the Risks” page on HPV:

Not having sex is the only way to be sure you won’t be infected with HPV. If you are having sex, use condoms correctly every time you have oral, anal, and vaginal sex to make sure you stay STD free.

Take note that they’re encouraging kids — as young as 11 years old, remember — to have oral and anal sex too.

Notice too that the advice here is that using condoms “correctly every time” is a way to “make sure you stay STD free.” Those words are from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, not me.

Mixed Messaging on Condoms Dangerous to Kids’ Health

But they don’t even believe their own advice. Earlier in the section, they also state — accurately, I might add — “HPV can be spread through sex and through close skin-to-skin contact” (emphasis added).

If you’re confused by this mixed messaging, think of how this advice is received by an 11-year old.

If the City of Philadelphia really wanted to tell kids everything they need to know about condoms, what they should tell them is that in 2001, a scientific panel co-sponsored by the CDC, NIH, FDA, and USAID looked at 138 peer-reviewed, published studies and found that — with the exception of AIDS and the female-to-male transmission of gonorrhea — “epidemiological evidence is insufficient to determine the effectiveness of condoms in actual use for preventing most other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)”.

At the time, chastity speaker Mary Beth Bonacci summarized the panel’s findings:

Basically, it boils down to this: There is no evidence to indicate that condoms prevent the heterosexual transmission of most sexually transmitted diseases. None.

I’ve written more about this matter here.

What If an 11-Year Old Wants Free STD Treatment?

So what if an 11-year old boy or girl in Philadelphia orders free condoms in the mail, and ends up — like so very many other kids (and adults) who use condoms — getting an STD anyway? Can they go to one of the city’s health centers and receive free treatment?

Apparently not, on account of being too young:


In other words:

Here are some free condoms, kid, and if you decide to start having sex and use them, they might possibly maybe help you not get an STD.  But if you get one, well, sorry, you’re out of luck.  You’re too young for us to treat you.

This may be the clearest example yet that I’ve seen of the empty promises offered by the “safe sex” “safer sex” establishment.

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