PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, April 15, 2011 ( – Health officials in Philadelphia have come under fire from outraged parents after launching a campaign offering free mail-order condoms to children as young as 11 years old as part of an STD education campaign.

The brightly-colored website for the program,, urges young teens to use a condom “every time you have oral, anal, and vaginal sex” in order to avoid HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Those who already have the deadly virus are advised that “it is important to have protected (safer) sex with your partner(s).”

“Let’s face it, sex is more fun when you’re not worried about getting pregnant or getting an STD,” states the website, which offers graphic video tutorials of how to put on both male and female condoms.

The site offers several locations where teens can find contraceptives, and for those who are “just shy or feeling weird about picking up condoms,” it offers the condoms free in the mail to anyone living in the city “between the ages of 11 and 19.”

The website mascot, “Zelda,” is introduced as a cartoon black woman who “was born and raised in Philly and knows how important it is to make smart choices and take control of your own life.” The accompanying “Zelda guide” directs youngsters to Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, other sex education agencies, and multiple groups catering to homosexuals.

A column by Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky, appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday, published the response of a parent appalled by the new site. “I am personally outraged,” wrote the woman, a mother of a 14-year-old. “What is it telling our youth? I get the sex-education thing for kids in schools, but mail-order condoms for 11-year-olds??? It’s shocking to me.”

Jill Foster, the director of the Dorothy Mann Center for Pediatric and Adolescent HIV at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, said in the Inquirer article that pushing condoms on youngsters is critical in light of a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey that identified Philadelphia as having the earliest age of sexual initiation: 13.

“They don’t have maturity or impulse control, so if we can get them to have condoms with them when they start having sex, they are going to be safer. I wish it weren’t necessary. Unfortunately, it is,” said Foster.

While parents balk at the targeting of 11-year-olds, the threshold is on the high end for sex education leader Planned Parenthood, which advocates on its website that “preteens” as young as 8 years old be taught about emergency contraception, other methods of birth control,  and abortion.

Planned Parenthood also recommends that children as young as five be taught “that people experience sexual pleasure in a number of different ways.”


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