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Mail-Order Condom Program Launches For California Teenagers

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A new program supported by the California Department of Public Health will allow teenagers throughout various parts of the state to order condoms online for free.

The initiative, launched on Tuesday and available through TeenSource.org, a website that provides information about safe sex for California teenagers, will be available for individuals ages 12-19 in Alameda, Sacramento, Kern, San Joaquin and parts of San Francisco counties. According to the Bakersfield Californian, the effort marks an attempt to tackle "alarmingly high" rates of STDs and teen pregnancies in certain regions.

"We can't keep our heads in the sand and pretend there isn't a problem," Amy Moy, vice president of public affairs for the Family Health Council, a nonprofit co-sponsoring the program, told the Bakersfield Californian. "We know teens are engaging and we want to make sure they're as safe as possible."

But some parents and abstinence advocates are none too pleased by the plan, which sends a package of condoms, lubricant and an educational pamphlet to teenagers' homes in a nondescript yellow envelope. "I would think the overwhelming majority of parents in Kern County wouldn't think this is a good idea," Linda Davis, executive director of the Bakersfield Pregnancy Center, told the Associated Press. "And I don't think their kids would have the nerve to request them."

“Oh no, I do not agree with it,” mother Sharon Tillery added to CBS News.

Repeated studies have suggested that providing teenagers with access to birth control and comprehensive sex education does not encourage the population to have intercourse. On the other hand, "no abstinence-only program has yet been proven through rigorous evaluation to help youth delay sex for a significant period of time, help youth decrease their number of sex partners, or reduce STI or pregnancy rates among teens," a report published by Advocates For Youth in 2009 read.

San Francisco county, meanwhile, has some of the lowest instances of teen pregnancy in the state, with 2,387 cases in 2011 as compared with Kern's 13,861.

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Filed by Carly Schwartz