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Condoms for 12-year-olds?!

Mary Hasson

 (Warning: Explicit!)

Sorry to spoil your breakfast, folks, with revolting news, but you should know about this. The largest Swiss manufacturer of condoms announced a new product launch last week: condoms, size extra small, designed to fit boys as young as 12 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7361181/Extra-small-condoms-for-12-year-old-boys-go-on-sale-in-Switzerland.html).  Why the push? According to the latest Swiss government-funded study, more 12-14 year-old boys than ever are having sex—and they are doing it without condoms. Man-size “protection” apparently doesn’t fit and falls off (a problem shared by nearly 25% of teens, according to a German study). 

So, are we surprised that a boy’s child-size anatomy—which goes along with his child-size emotions, understanding, and judgment—doesn’t fit into daddy’s prophylactic? The Swiss apparently are. The researchers declared themselves “shocked” that “young boys… display apparently risky behaviour. They have more of a tendency not to protect themselves. They do not have a very developed sexual knowledge. They do not understand the consequences of what they are doing....” (Emphasis added).

So they need condoms? What, in Narnia packaging or an Avatar-blue color? Maybe they should stock them right next to the Nintendo DS games at Toys-R-Us. Nah, this isn’t a game—it’s all about health. Better stick them next to the neon Bandaids. And price them singly, so a 12-year-old doesn’t spend his whole allowance on protection and have nothing left for Doritos after school. Oh yes, they’ve already named the condoms-- “Hotshots,” a double-entendre striving to be cool.

Morality aside, what are these adults thinking? Parenting 101 says that when a kid doesn’t understand the consequences of certain behavior, he’s nowhere near ready to do it (whatever “it” may be).  At best, these adults are idiots.

Unfortunately, I really don’t think they are. The whole thing feels creepy to me, evil in fact.  Any 12-year-old boy engaging in sex needs a parent—not a condom--to protect him. If he’s having sex with someone older, the law calls that abuse, sexual assault, or rape. And if he’s experimenting with a peer, he needs an adult to step in and prevent it precisely because the kids “do not understand the consequences of what they are doing.”

This condom ploy is about two things: money and license. For the condom company, greed tramples any real concern for children. Lamprecht AG, the Swiss condom manufacturer, boasts of its intent to market the extra small condom in the United Kingdom next: “the UK is certainly a very attractive market since there is a very high rate of underage conception.” (Sounds like Planned Parenthood, here in the U.S., which makes huge amounts of money dispensing contraceptives and providing abortions.) There’s money to be made. Like any company trying to grow a market, Lamprecht AG ultimately must “grow” the need. They make money off the extra small condom only if more children have more sex. Good for kids? No way.  Good for Lamprecht? Absolutely.

Worse than the condom company, in my view, are the professionals complicit in this whole effort—the Swiss government, the family planning advocates, and the AIDS activists.  They all pushed for development of the kid-sized condom, even though they know the research shows that sex is not good for kids. They are well aware that young children who are sexually active may indeed be the victims of abuse.

They don’t care. Their agenda is to brand sexual license-- in all its variations, with any number and combination of genders--as normative and beneficial. Sex, in this view, has all the moral significance of a good back-scratch. Emotional significance? Only if the participants choose to invest it with meaning. 

And the only sin is to fail to use protection…which brings us back to where we started.

Lamprecht AG, the maker of the Hotshot condom for kids, declares that, “Wellness is our business.” What they really mean is they’re banking on doing well in the “sexualizing your kids” business.

How do you feel about that?

Contact them online at http://www.lamprechtag.com/contact.jsp?l=0

Topics: Culture , Current Events

Mary Rice Hasson, the mother of seven, is a Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C. She blogs at wordsfromcana.

View all articles by Mary Hasson

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