(CNSNews.com) – The Washington, D.C. Department of Health gave away 200,000 condoms at public high schools last year, according to department communications director Najma Roberts.
D.C. public high schools are grade 9 through 12, often enrolling 14-year-old children in 9th grade.
Distributing the condoms was part of the Wrap M.C. Program, a 3-year-old initiative that expanded the long-time practice of handing out condoms in D.C. schools.
According to the D.C. Public Schools website, there are 20 public high schools that serve 12,792 students. Roberts provided the names of 18 public charter schools that receive condoms for distribution to students, including Maya Angelou-Evans Middle School and Two Rivers PCS Middle School.
The 200,000 free condoms distributed at the school works out to about 16 for each of the 12,792 students.
When CNSNews.com asked about a news report on the D.C. Department of Health handing out one million condoms to “young people” in 2011, Roberts confirmed that fact and said of those one million, about 200,000 were distributed on public school campuses.
CNSNews.com asked Roberts if the condoms are available to students “on demand” or if students are required to go through specific procedures to get condoms.
“The condoms are available at the student’s request,” Roberts said via e-mail. “The Department provides condoms to school nurses and to other adult school staff through our Wrap MC program.
“The program trains school staff on sexual health and condoms,” Roberts said. “It encourages the adult staff to engage young people with information about their sexual health. There is no counseling requirement for the program.”
On the Wrap M.C. website, however, it states that students can also be “certified” to “promote condom use among their piers.”
“For adults to distribute condoms, either school staff members or community providers conducting programming in the schools, they must complete the webinar, pass the post-test and provide a copy of their Wrap M.C. certificate to the school coordinator,” the website states. “Upon successfully passing the post test, HAHSTA will provide you with all materials needed to distribute condoms in the school.
“Students are encouraged to become a part of the Wrap M.C. program and become certified to promote condom use among their peers,” the website states. “They should speak with their Wrap M.C. coordinator at their school or community agency for information specific to their school or agency. HAHSTA [Health HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD & Tuberculosis Administration] will provide you with needed materials upon successfully passing the post test.”
Roberts also confirmed that students in all grades at public high schools have access to free condoms.
Public schools in the District of Columbia (elementary and secondary) received more than $175 million or 10.6 percent of its education budget from the federal government for 2009, the latest figures available from the National Center for Education Statistics.