'Official Condom of Spring Break' wants to be official condom of the prom
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NEW YORK CITY — Prom night: fancy dresses, rented tuxedos, limousines, flowers – and condoms?
A New York City condom company – sporting the tagline “Get It On!” – caused a stir Wednesday by offering free condoms to high schools for distribution before their school prom, and reactions have been mixed.
“We’re not condoning sex for teens, but we want to make sure everybody’s safe and protected,” said Allie Bostwick, a spokesperson for NuVo Condoms, distributed by NV Healthcare LLC. NuVo Condoms says that research has shown that one in five seventeen-year-olds plan to have sex for the first time on prom night, so they had better be prepared.
And many New York City parents agree, though not without reluctance.
“I think it’s reality, as horrified as I am,” said Lynn, the mom of a Brooklyn public high school senior. (She asked not use her last name so her daughter’s school would not be identified.) “I see all the pregnant bellies among the children at my daughter’s school – and it’s a good school. On open school night I was amazed; there were so many, there was an onsite day care.
“As much as I think it might encourage some of them, it’s the lesser of two evils,” she said, adding, “They’re babies having babies.”
New York City is all for distributing free condoms. The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene hands them out by the millions to public schools and businesses. In 2009, the last figures available, 41.5 million free “NYC”-branded condoms were distributed. The CDC says distributing free condoms saves millions in future health costs.
“As part of our HIV/AIDS curriculum, we have free condoms available at our health resource rooms in high schools,” said Marge Feinberg, spokesperson the city’s Department of Education. “If a company wants to distribute free condoms in a high school resource room, then the company would have to make arrangements with the principal of the high school.”
Prom night sex a tradition?
But the idea of handing out condoms as an official part of prom night is troubling to some advocates for teens. In many communities across America sex on prom night has become a tradition. But the perceived obligation to have sex can be unhealthy, some experts say, and condom distribution only adds to the pressure – especially for girls who know that their dates may have spent more than a thousand dollars on the prom and related events.
California family law attorney Myra Chack Fleischer writes on her website that the peer pressure and price tag of the prom can overwhelm many teens. "If adult women feel pressured to 'put out' and have sex with a man just because he took her out for a nice dinner, imagine the pressure on a 17-year-old girl whose date spent $1,000 on taking her to the prom.”
Some New Yorkers object on moral grounds as well. “What is the message you’re sending to these young people?” asked Sister Anne Lally, Campus Minister at Saint Saviour High School in Park Slope, Brooklyn. “I understand the reality – a girl can get pregnant, her life can be ruined, she goes for an abortion. But why are we not helping them to make better decisions?”
“I’ve heard of parents actually booking hotel rooms,” she added. “Students have told me that when the limo goes from house to house picking up dates, parents have cocktails ready. What is the message we are sending to these kids?”
Helping prevent STDs
NuVo Condoms – which calls itself “The Official Condom of Spring Break” – says it’s helping prevent sexually transmitted diseases, and tries to reach young, sexually active customers with irreverent slogans and edgy graphics. (They say they are “Making a bang” in the condom industry, for example.)
"We are always looking for creative ways to spread the word about safe sex to impact the growth in STD's and unplanned pregnancy," said NuVo spokesperson Behn Goldis in a statement.
"We know that many high school students are engaging in unprotected sex and prom is often the time when unprotected sex takes place. We really want to bring awareness of safe sex practices and want to provide our product as a way to create awareness of safe sex."
Brooklyn mom Lynn agrees. “It sends a bad message – but on the other hand, how many pregnancies result from prom night?”
Any high school that wishes to receive a free supply of NuVo Condoms to distribute to students before the prom, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.