Feature

A 'starter' condom for 12 year olds?

A Swiss company is selling extra-small condoms intended for tween and teen boys. Will this promote public health, or just underage sex?

A Swiss company has begun selling extra-small condoms—called "Hotshots" — made for boys as young as 12, after a government study found that adolescents in Switzerland are not using proper protection when having sex. The Swiss Aids Federation and family planning groups pushed for the smaller condoms—which for now are only being sold in Switzerland—on the theory that teens would be more likely to wear Hotshots, which are 1.7 inches wide, than standard condoms, which are 2 inches wide. Will marketing condoms to 12 year olds keep them safe, or just encourage them to have sex?Selling kids tiny starter condoms is 'so wrong': This sends the "worst possible message" to boys, says Rachel Henwood in Ecademy. "Randy pint-sized" men already see sex everywhere, and think it's cool. Tell 12-year-old boys that having sex is okay as long as you put on a Hotshot, and they'll run out looking "for 12-year-old (or God forbid, younger) girls to test them out on.""Selling SEX to kids — now the world has gone mad"

The idea of extra-small condoms is disturbing ... but smart: "As much as the idea of a 12-year-old having sex makes me uncomfortable," says Ronda Kaysen in Mom Logic, "I think this is great. Kids are having sex whether we like it or not," so making a condom they can actually use is a necessary part of any effort to protect them from sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy."Mini-condoms for 12 year olds?!"

Technology isn't the answer: Getting engineers to design a "training-wheel condoms" won't solve the tween sex problem, says Rod Dreher in Beliefnet. In fact, when you have enough sexually active 12-year-old boys to "economically justify the manufacture of training-wheel condoms," your society's troubles probably run "far deeper" than you think."Look out, Heidi, here comes Der Hotshot"

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