Oregon Couple Gives Out Condoms on Halloween

Kathleen Harris has been handing out condoms to teenage trick or treaters for 24 years. She began during the apex of the AIDS epidemic and believes she is performing a community service by promoting health education and teen pregnancy prevention. She gives condoms only to those 16 and older, asking the teens to verify their ages. But the father of a 14-year-old girl who received a condom wasn’t impressed by Harris’s personal outreach program. He claims Harris’s actions are a violation of his right to raise his daughter as he sees fit.

Differing Opinions

The incident isn’t causing widespread outrage in the community, but it illustrates the gap between couples like Kathleen Harris and her husband, Daniel, a doctor who supports his wife’s activism, and the girl’s father, Daniel Cote, a chiropractor who objects to the idea that providing condoms is a way to prevent teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Public Service

Harris delivers a public service message with each condom. She reminds teens that having condoms does not mean they are having sex, nor that they should. It’s simply a reminder that if they do, to be safe, and she asks them to share the condoms with anyone they know who is having sex but isn’t doing so safely.

After all, Harris said, “Kids are going to do these things anyway, so we want them to have to at least think about it ahead of time.”

Condoms Promote Teen Sex

Daniel Cote doesn’t agree. He believes handing out condoms to teens promotes sex amongst teens, and though he respects the right of the Harris’s to their views, he doesn’t want those views imposed on his child.

The Cote’s discovered the condom as they went through their daughter’s Halloween haul and eventually traced them back to the Harris’s. According to the Cote’s, they were not the only parents who were upset.

What the Experts Say

Experts tend to agree with Daniel Cote that it is parents who should be talking to teens about sex because they are the best judges of their children’s readiness on the topic. Receiving condoms and lectures from strangers on Halloween puts teens in an uncomfortable position.

What Do You Think?

American teen pregnancy and STD rates are among the highest in the industrialized world, so even if the Cote’s are conscientious parents, it appears that not all are paying much attention. What do you think? Should neighbors be handing out condoms to your teens or is that your job? Share your stories.


photo credit: Beware of Condoms by 20after4


Jami Winn
Jami Winn7 years ago

dont try to fool yourself you now all teens would jump at a chance for a condom then put it to good use

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

Interesting article. thanx

Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago

I can understand their intentions, but it really should be up to parents to have “the talk” with their kids and deal with such matters as they see fit. It’s not anybody else’s place to get involved. Sadly many parents don’t have that talk and many more kids don’t listen, but that’s another story.

Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago

I can understand their intentions, but that really should be left up to parents to have "the talk" with their kids. Unfortunately many don't, and many kids don't listen, but that's another story.

Susan Weihofen
Susan Weihofen7 years ago

Condoms save lives, sex education in schools has become a joke taken over by abstinence only programs, which probably explains the rising teen pregnancy rate. Kathleen Harris is a beacon of hope in a dark world.

Jeffrey M.
Jeffrey M7 years ago

Let's call it their right to free speech. It isn't difficult to put these things into context such that your kid forgets they ever happened. Kids are stupid. :-)

Ainsley Jo Phillips

I think that this couple meant well, but this kind of thing isn't appropriate for Halloween night. It would be better if they tried to get parents to realize that they have a responsibility to have honest discussions about sex with their kids.. I believe in giving kids all of the facts--including how to get protection should they decide to go ahead and have sex--but, also, making clear that abstaining is the way to go until they've at least graduated from high school (waiting until marriage being the best way).

Lisa Stripling
Lisa Stripling7 years ago

IMO, this woman is wrong, completely wrong. I agree the idea of promoting safe sex is NEEDED, but it was not this woman's place to do that. I talked to my daughter about condoms and safer sex as a preteen, but I would be irate if she came home with a condom on Halloween.

Janna O.
Janna O7 years ago

I can't understand this at all. Why are children as old as this 14-year-old still trick-or-treating? And her dear papa still taking her around to mooch candy? For crying out loud!

Peggy J.
Peggy Jakopak7 years ago

Why is a 14, 15, or 16-year-old trick or treating at all? It's for LITTLE KIDS, not for teenagers. My kids stopped being allowed to beg for candy the minute they became a teen. Aside from that, I love when parents think "if you give them a condom, it will make them go out and have sex." How incredibly 1950s of them. 13-year-olds are having babies. You have to live in a cave to believe that "it can't happen to you." I don't think it was a big deal at all. If that had been my kids, they would have laughed it off and given them to me to do something with. Yes, it is the parents responsibility to teach their kids about safe sex - too bad most parents aren't. They expect the school to do it or they think that if they ignore it, then it won't happen to them.