DEAR ABBY: I am so sick of the argument that dispensing condoms in school encourages sex that I could scream. What are people thinking these days? I understand that parents and adults don't like the thought of fifth-graders (or younger or older, for that matter) having sex, but it's a fact that some do.
Adolescents and teens have sex for various reasons. Some are responsible and use condoms. But often they act irresponsibly and do not. Many are afraid or embarrassed to ask their parents for them.
As parents, adults and educators, we have a responsibility to provide young people with the necessary tools for survival in this world. I fail to see why anyone, especially our young, should be at risk of death because of a mistake in judgment.
Abby, you have been 100 percent correct in the past when you said that if children are at risk of dying, we as informed adults and parents have a moral obligation to educate children about safe sex. And yes, that includes providing condoms to help young people combat the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
It's no longer enough for parents to tell young adults that abstinence is the best way. The kids know that. But they do not necessarily heed that advice. This means that we must communicate to them in other ways. By dispensing condoms to young people and counseling them about safe sex, we can tell them, "I don't agree with your decision, but as your parent or friend, I don't want you to die because you have chosen to be sexually active."
I hope you will print my letter. -- RESPONSIBLE ADULT IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR RESPONSIBLE ADULT: I'm printing your letter, but I anticipate sharp criticism from those who disagree with you.
May I add that the only 100 percent safe sex is NO sex at all -- and I believe that is the ONLY way to go for adolescents and teen-agers.