Condoms at schools just common sense
By ANN-MARIE MAY
JENNY, a mother of three, can still remember the bright shade of red her 16-year-old daughter's face turned when she handed her a packet of Four Seasons condoms.
"She had a look of absolute shock on her face, saying 'why would I need these mum?' I didn't say anything, but gave her a look that let her know that I knew," Jenny said.
After a long awkward silence broken up my the odd denial, Jenny finally got her daughter to admit that she was, and had been for some time, sexually active.
"I'd be lying if I said I was happy to hear my baby girl was having sex, but I had suspected that was the case for a little while. So it was time to decide whether to keep my head buried in the sand or confront the issue," she said.
Falling pregnant with her first child when she was just 17, Jenny knows all too well the consequences of ignorance, and promised herself she would never be one of 'them'.
"My parents were of the 'if we don't acknowledge that it's happening, it's not actually happening' belief," she said.
"Of course I'd love it if my daughter was content with just holding hands, but as a parent I have to be realistic.
"Short of locking her in her room or following her everywhere, there is nothing I can do to stop her having sex. But I can help her be protected."
This involved a frank conversation between mum and daughter about the responsibilities and risks that came with having sex (though Jenny admits she did most of the talking), and a visit to the Women's Health Centre.
"I wanted to make sure she knew that getting pregnant wasn't the only risk of having unprotected sex. Kids today seemed to have forgotten about STDs (sexually transmitted disease) and think they are untouchable," she said.
Jenny also belives that making condoms even more available to teenagers, such as a through vending machines at school, is just common sense.
"I don't believe by making condoms available at school that it will make more kids have sex, but it might make those who are more inclined to protect themselves," she said.
"Coffs is still a small community, and many kids are too embarrased to walk into a supermarket and buy a packet of condoms, because there is every chance they will be served by, or bump into, someone they know."