Before school let out for the summer, I was doing some HIV outreach near a DC high school which I've heard has the highest graduation rate in the entire city. It also has a day care for the students with babies.
Getting to work as early as I do, I often see these girls with their babies on their way to school. They all look so young. It makes me incredibly sad that children are having children. I'm very aware of the fact that kids that age are having sex. But I'm not desensitized to the point where I don't feel bad when seeing a kid with a baby in her arms.
Still, kudos to the school for allowing those girls to continue their education.
Obviously those kids are sexually active. However, I am forbidden from doing outreach at the school or handing out condoms to anyone under 18. So, when I passed by the school a few weeks ago and saw what I saw, I seriously considered breaking the law.
There are windows in the school's stairwells and I saw two kids going at it. Clearly, they should've been in class. And I could've sworn this school had security guards or maybe some scary looking hall monitors. I grabbed one of my condom kits and when the two finally came up for air, they looked out the window and saw me waving the condoms at them. My aide and outreach partner laughed at me. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Clearing these kids are doing it. Hopefully not now, but later, I'm sure. They better use a condom, damn it," I replied. If they're going to have sex, they might as well protect themselves, right?
With school out for the summer, I've been seeing more and more kids out during the day when I do outreach. Since I'm not on school grounds, I'm tempted to talk to them. However, the grant that funds my program forbids us from reaching out to anyone under 18. So, when a 13 year old came up to me and asked for some condoms, my immediate reaction was to tell him, "No, sorry, you're not old enough." His reply: "I'm old enough to have sex."
Touché, little punk. Touché.
The activist in me said, Hey, these kids are having sex. You have an obligation to give them the tools they need to protect themselves. The goody-two-shoes in me said, The agency funding your program doesn't want you reaching out to youngsters. In addition, the goody-two-shoes in me shook her head at me and looked at me with disappointment.
With school out, I know I'll be encountering kids like these more and more. I need to come up with a solution that I can live with.
The activist in me is winning the battle inside my head to determine what is the 'right' thing to do.