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Health Alert: Philadelphia Condom Campaign

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- 11-year-olds are getting condoms. It's happening with the city of Philadelphia's new program, aimed at fighting sexually transmitted diseases.

Last week, the city launched the campaign that is designed to raise awareness about the growing problem of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers.

A big part of the program is giving out free condoms, and that has some parents concerned.

The website is called "Take Control Philly." It outlines the risks of having unsafe sex and protecting yourself from diseases.

Anyone over the age of 11 can sign up to get free condoms in the mail.

"I think that's far too young. I think absolute minimum should be high school age. Eleven-year-old is in middle school, and that's absolutely too young," said Amanda Hujber, who works in Philadelphia.

In launching the campaign, Philadelphia health officials said studies have shown that 10 to 14-year-olds in the city have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases than the national average.

"It's certainly scary and horrifying that 11-year-olds are engaging in this, but the reality is that they are," said Gary Bell, Director of Bebashi, an agency that provides sexual health education. He says they start with the message that the only really safe sex is no sex, but condoms are the next best way to prevent STDs.

"I can understand people being outraged. I'm a parent myself, but I think I'd rather have the kids have the information. I'd rather have the kids have access to it," said Gary.

The website also has an animated video that shows—graphically—how to correctly use condoms.

"That's not something I would recommend my own daughter to look at," said Shelly Anderson, of Philadelphia.

"I think it would be irresponsible just to give them condoms and not show them how to use them. I think it's important to know that we're not giving condoms to kids; kids are coming and asking for condoms. Kids are seeking them out," said Gary.

City health officials tell CBS 3 that 173 condoms have been ordered online since the campaign started last week. There are also locations where teens can pick them up.

For more information on the Take Control Philly Program Information, click here.

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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