By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — North Carolina lawmakers may want to rethink the state’s sex education policy in light of a study released this week showing that more than 8 out of 10 parents support Abstinence Education.
“If sex education were on the November ballot, abstinence education would win by a landslide, and not just among Republicans,” said Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Foundation, in a press release regarding the poll conducted last month by Pulse Opinion Research and commissioned by NAEF.
“Critics portray abstinence education as a religious or political issue that has no place in our public schools. But this survey shows abstinence education is a women’s issue, a Hispanic issue, an African-American issue, a health issue and a common-sense issue with strong support across ethnic groups, age demographics and political affiliation,” Huber added.
Key findings in the phone survey of 1,683 likely voters with children ages 9 to 16 include the fact that 85 percent of parents believe that all youth benefit from skills that help them choose to wait for sex and nearly 9 in 10 parents strongly support their children knowing the limitations of condoms for preventing pregnancy and disease.
“North Carolina tends to be a bit more conservative than much of the rest of the nation, so no doubt parents here feel as strongly about the need to teach children abstinence as those in the study,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We need our public schools to reflect this.”
After heated debate and much political wrangling, lawmakers passed the so-called Healthy Youth Act in June 2009 which changed “Abstinence-Until-Marriage (AUM) Education” to comprehensive “Reproductive Health and Safety Education” and mandated that schools include information about all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, including the morning-after pill.
“The only good retained in that legislation was the provision that students must first complete the AUM curriculum — the standard set in 1995 — before moving on to the Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) portion, and the fact that parents can opt them out of that second part if they wish,” said Dr. Creech, who was instrumental in retaining the AUM standard. “Parental involvement — investigating exactly what your child’s school plans to teach and then deciding whether or not it’s appropriate, in addition to having many one-on-one conversations with your child on this topic — remains the key to successful sex education.”
The NAEF study, titled Parents Speak Out, showed broad support among Democrats and Republicans for a Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) approach, which gives students medically accurate information about contraceptives while emphasizing the benefits of delaying sexual activity until marriage. By contrast, typical Sexual Risk Reduction (SRR) programs do not address the limits of birth control methods, something that 90 percent of those surveyed want their children to understand.
The poll showed that 78 percent of parents want their sons and daughters to delay sex until marriage, including 73 percent of whites, 77 percent of Hispanics and 87 percent of African Americans and that a majority oppose White House efforts to eliminate all federal funds for SRA education. Already SRR programs receive 16 times more funding than those that are SRA-based. Some two-thirds of parents in the study support moving toward more equal funding.
“This is by far not the first study to show that parents support abstinence based education and we suspect it won’t be the last,” said Dr. Creech. “It is time for lawmakers to stop selling this false idea that teens can have ‘safe sex.’ Instead, we need to be arming them with medically accurate information that reveals the limits of contraceptive methods and empowering them to delay sex until marriage.”
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