by Dustin Schwanger

Contraception has, again, been a hot topic in the media over the past week, leading to a particularly feisty debate on Fox News. No, this isn’t over the Catholic Church’s suing the federal government over the contraception mandate (that has been conspicuously ignored by most of the media); it is about a small high school in Brooklyn handing out condoms at prom.

The debate on whether this high school should be distributing condoms on prom night quickly becomes eclipsed when looked at in the less-reported context in which this is happening. Tucked away in a couple of articles about this controversy was a report that not only will this school be giving out condoms on prom night but that the school will be holding an assembly discussing safe sex and that the English Department is even sponsoring an essay contest about safe sex.

As a social conservative I am repulsed by the implicit, and even explicit, encouragement of teen sex. My first thought is that the schools should not even be involved in this matter—that is the responsibility of parents. But then I remember that responsible parenthood is a waning art. My next thought is that if the school must teach students about sex, because of the neglect of parents to do so, the teaching should be abstinence only. But then I remember that we are currently losing the abstinence battle: the trend of society is moving toward complete acceptance of teen sex.

This is where the school in Brooklyn enters. The principal of the school might be a crusader for teen sex, but it’s more likely that he and his policy are products of the societal trend of normalization of teen sex. While still strongly opposing such moves by school districts, it would bode well for us normal, everyday supporters of traditional families and marriages to step back from this debate and focus more on how we can affect the small part of society continually surrounding us.

Affecting our part of society for good generally will not happen from aspirations to lobby local or national government to protect the morals of the country; it comes through the personal effect we have on those with whom we interact, especially teenagers. Aspiring to change a teenager’s life, to help him or her to make wise decisions, is one of best services we can perform for society. Mentoring teenagers is something that everyone can do. Everyone knows teenagers whether they be their children’s school friends, extended family, or youth from a local church. There are many ways to be a mentor to these teenagers: we can simply talk to them, invite them over to family dinner, or invite them to family activities. These expressions of love and encouragement will help them to make better decisions, such as not having sex in high school, than anything a school can teach. However, not giving this encouragement to the teenagers in our sphere of influence will do more to damage them, and therefore society, than whether a school in Brooklyn hands out condoms on prom night.