Candy, Chips and CONDOMS:
Vending Machines Aren’t Just for Snacks Anymore
Juan Gallegos, Christian Placencia, Delfina Sánchez, Cristal Juárez, Alfonzo Collazo, Alejandra Vaca
All right, so you’re at a party and things start
getting a little hot and heavy, but you don’t have a
condom! Are you really gonna stop even though it feels
so good? Now we know what you think we’re gonna to
tell ya, “Don’t have sex!” But we ain’t your mamma and
if we were, you wouldn’t listen anyway, right? Right.
Instead, we’re gonna tell you, “Be prepared and get a
Now are you listening?
We know that many of you think it’s too embarrassing
to wait in line with a 12-pack of Trojans. After all,
what if someone you know sees you? You could go to the
clinic and get free condoms, but you’re embarrassed to
do that too. Maybe your aunt goes to the same clinic.
What if she sees you and tells your parents? Where are
you gonna get a condom without these hassles? Well
real soon, you might be able to get condoms at a
vending machine located at your favorite chill place.
Now don’t love us too much, because they ain’t free—
you gotta kick down with some dough. But hey, a condom
is cheaper than a kid! We both know a kid ain’t right
for you right now.
Lowering Teen Pregnancy
The Condom Vending Machine Project is sponsored by a
group of students from Watsonville High School who
work as teen advocates and journalists with PSI (the
very ones who bring you ShoutOut). As advocates, we
promote safer sex practices to sexually active teens.
We’re in the community reminding you to wear condoms
yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
and teen pregnancy.
The condom vending machines will be an additional way
for you to get condoms besides going to the pharmacy
or the clinic. Whether you’re too embarrassed, or it’s
after hours, we want to make sure you can get condoms
when you need them.
And this is important, ‘cause Watsonville has one of
the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation.
That’s right, the NATION! Teens here keep getting
pregnant and it’s time to do something about it! We’ve
been talking with many members of the community to get
their support for what we’re doing. Former City
Council Member Rafael López, La Manzana Family
Resource Center, Salud Para La Gente, Casa Bienestar
and the Youth Community Restoration Project are just
a few that believe condom vending machines are a good
“Teen pregnancy is a major public health concern,”
says Roy Jiménez, Research and Grants Manager of
Salud Para La Gente. “The condom machines are not an
end-all, but can provide protection for the
spontaneity of the moment.”
The Word on the Street
We’ve talked to many teens around town. You’re telling
us you need an alternative way to get condoms and that
you’d use these machines. “People are embarrassed to
buy condoms in stores,” said Marta (student names have
been changed) from Watsonville High. “What if you’re
standing in line and they call a price check?”
Look for the machines in places where teens kick back,
like fast food restaurants and theaters in Watsonville
and Santa Cruz. They’ll be in both men’s and women’s
restrooms. So girls, don’t be shy about buying
condoms! It’s your responsibility too.
Claudia, a sophomore from Watsonville High School,
thinks that girls should be able to get condoms in
private. She believes that if a girl is seen
purchasing condoms in public, “That’s how rumors
start, and she’s seen as a slut.” The restrooms will
give you the privacy you want, because who wants
everyone to know when you need condoms? Correct? We
Facing the Facts
It hasn’t been easy to get condom vending machines
installed, either. No sir, it hasn’t. Watsonville is a
fairly conservative community. Some people may say
that we’re promoting sex.
Let it be clear: We are not pressuring teens to be
sexually active. People who don’t have sex aren’t
going to start doing it just because there are condoms
Our community needs to face the fact that half of all
high school students are sexually active. And what’s
really scary is that about half of those sexually
active teens are having unprotected sex, and one out
of every four of them will get infected with an STD.
Teens that are having sex need to use protection.
Don’t get us wrong, some of us at PSI are also
conservative, but we know that when it comes to high
teen pregnancy rates and STDs, we need to speak out
and take action.
We believe that teens should be able to get condoms
whenever they need them, no questions asked. It is
your basic reproductive right: your choice, your
freedom. Condom vending machines will give you the
privacy you desire and the access you need.