Parents in one Oregon town were not amused when their trick-or-treaters came home with a bag full of candy and -- courtesy of one local couple -- condoms.
As a result, a post-Halloween controversy has brewed up among residents of the town of Silverton.
Kathleen Harris says she and her husband have been handing out condoms to high school-age trick-or-treaters for years, but introduced the practice to Silverton this year after recently moving to the area. Though Harris and her husband view the prophylactic "treats" as a community service that promotes health, local dad Daniel Côté disagrees.
Côté says he was shocked when his 14-year-old daughter received condoms from Harris, calling it an intrusion of family privacy and a violation of his paternal rights to raise his daughter as he wishes. "It is hard for me as a parent to imagine any justification for giving children condoms without parents' consent," Côté told the Statesman Journal. "It's inappropriate. I want to deal in my own house with my own children."
Harris admits that giving condoms to a 14-year-old was a mistake; the couple's standard practice is to hand them out to kids who claim to be at least 16. She says she doesn't believe that handing out the contraceptive encourages sexual behavior. Instead, she insists they are an educational tool to get kids familiar with what they look like should they decide to have sex in the future. She says she also encourages kids to pass them on to other people they might know who need them.
"It's harm reduction," Harris says. "Kids are going to do these things anyway, so we want them to have to at least think about it ahead of time."
But Côté and other parents vehemently disagree with Harris' reasoning.
"When my daughter came back home, we always go through her candy, and we pulled out a toothbrush and then a small brown paper bag that was folded up and there were three condoms inside," Côté says. Though his daughter said she remembered getting the paper bag, she assumed it had candy inside.
"By providing kids with condoms, you're promoting sexual activity no matter how you look at it," Côté said, adding that while he respects the Harrises' opinions, they shouldn't impose them on other people.
"[Sex is] definitely a subject reserved for family, not some neighbor I hardly know in a neighborhood somewhere," he says.