Family First is welcoming the ERO report on sex education reports and says it should be a wake-up call to parents to get involved in the process.
“The current curriculum is flawed because it doesn’t tell the truth, and doesn’t involve parents in the process,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
The first flaw with the current Sex Education curriculum is the assumption that everyone is doing it or about to do it, and therefore they just need to know how to do it ‘safely’.
Yet according to Auckland University’s recent National Secondary School Youth Health Survey which covered 114 schools and almost 10,000 students, only 16% – 25% of a typical class up to year 10 (4th form) are sexually active. For year 11, it is a third, and even for senior students, over half are not sexually active.
“The clear majority are choosing not to be sexually active,” says Mr McCoskrie, “yet the Family Planning programme is disproportionately targeted at ‘safe sex’ messages, without a balancing message of encouraging abstinence and the benefits of delaying sexual involvement.”
For those youth who are sexually active, they are not being told the truth.
Groups like the Family Planning Association and the AIDS Foundation are perpetuating the myth that as long as you use a condom, you can pretty well do what you like.
In the recent Hubba Bubba campaign, the message was simply ‘How can I protect myself against STI’s?’. The answer? – “use condoms. When condoms are correctly used, and used every time you have sex, they are effective protection against most STIs, including HIV/AIDs.”
“Yet Dr Christine Roke, a senior doctor with Family Planning stated in a radio interview last year that the chances of catching chlamydia, gonorrhea, or herpes through a condom may be as high as 60% – but she reassured us that 40% protection was still beneficial,” says Mr McCoskrie
Other reports have shown only an 80% reduction in HIV incidence with condom use, and the World Health Organisation has stated that there is no protection against HPV which inflicts you with cervical cancer and warts.
This is why a report by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) found that Chlamydia rates in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty in 2003 were six times higher than Australia and four times higher than the UK, and that Gonorrhoea rates were double those reported in Australia and the UK. The Ministry of Health says our Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea rate has doubled since 1996.
“The current approach sows confusion about right and wrong and says the moral absolute is – use condoms,” says Mr McCoskrie. “It also excludes the hugely important role of parents, and their influence and values.”
“We should support the majority in abstinence, and demonstrate to the minority the mental, physical and emotional benefits of waiting.”
And this is exactly what parents want.
A poll conducted by the highly reputable Zogby International in 2003 showed that American parents (similar to the many parents who contact us) overwhelmingly supported the themes and messages of abstinence education programs. 80% wanted teens to be taught that they should not engage in sexual activity until they are married or at least in an adult relationship leading to marriage, and 91% wanted teens to be taught that “the best choice is for sexual intercourse to be linked to love, intimacy, and commitment.”
Family First is calling for funding, equivalent to what Family Planning currently receives, to be invested in abstinence programmes, and for parents to have far greater input into the process, including access to resources which empowers them to teach their children the ‘facts of life.’.