Family First NZ says that there is widespread support for the abstinence message in sex education, stronger standards being enforced during family television viewing times, and parents being notified when their daughter is seeking a medical procedure such as an abortion.
These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ. The Curia Market Research poll surveyed 1,000 people, and also found support for the Government giving a subsidy to parents who choose not to send their children to a child-care centre but foregoes income by staying at home to look after the children themselves.
Extensive support for parental notification when daughter pregnant and considering abortion (80%)
3 out of 4 parents of young children want abstinence message in sex education (69% overall)
2/3’rds of NZ’ers concerned about broadcasting standards for family viewing
Majority support for stay-home parents receiving government subsidies
“This poll confirms that NZ’ers still have a desire for conservative values and the welfare of the family as a whole, rather than accepting the liberalised approach of ‘just wear a condom’ sex education, declining standards in the media, and the ‘rights of the child’ ideology which has undermined parental authority and involvement,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Parents are right to be concerned about the culture they are raising their children in, and the challenges it presents to both their role as parents and the welfare of their children.”
“It’s time we acknowledged the hard work of parents and listened to their concerns and demands. It’s also time television broadcasters and advertisers cleaned their act up.”
The poll was conducted between 24 and 28 March 2010 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
Strong Support for Parental Notification Law
In response to the question “Should the law require parents to always be informed before-hand if their daughter who is under 16 is pregnant and wants to have an abortion?”, 79% responded yes, only 12% said no, and 9% either didn’t know or refused to answer.
“This is a very strong response, and is a rebuke to the politicians in 2004 who chose to exclude parents from this process when debating the provision in the Care of Children Bill,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
According to the Care of Children Act 2004, access to abortion is not restricted on grounds of age. Section 38 of the Act says that a girl of any age can give consent to an abortion and that consent operates as if it were given by her parents. Therefore, her parents need never know that their daughter is having such a procedure. Family First is aware of young girls being written to directly asking them to make an appointment to have the Gardasil vaccine.
“This all effectively means that while a parent has to sign a letter for their daughter to go on a school trip to the zoo or to play in the netball team, they are totally excluded from any knowledge or granting of permission for that same child to be put on the pill, have a vaccine, or have a surgical abortion,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First is asking for the law to be amended to allow for parental notification in all cases of medical advice, prescriptions and procedures unless it can be proved to a family court that it would place the child at extreme risk.
“Parental notification laws in Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, and other US states have seen a drop in both the pregnancy rate and the teen abortion rate – a win-win situation for all concerned. This is especially relevant when almost 80 teenagers a week have an abortion in NZ,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Parents Want Abstinence Message Taught
Three out of four parents of young children want the abstinence message taught in sex education – with 69% of kiwis overall supporting the ‘wait’ message.
In response to the question “Do you think schools, as part of their sex education programme, should be required to encourage pupils, to abstain from sex until they are old enough to handle the possible consequences of pregnancy?”, 69% said yes, 23% said no, and 9% refused to answer or didn’t know. Parents of children aged below 12 are 8% more likely to support the abstinence message (74%). Surprisingly, those under 40 were also most in favour of this message.
“This is a direct rebuke to the ‘use a condom’ and ‘everyone’s doing it’ messages being pushed by groups like Family Planning, AIDS Foundation and Rainbow Youth,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
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.
“We discourage drug use, smoking, excessive and fatty food – we encourage seatbelts, responsible driving, and physical activity. Why don’t we support the majority of youth who are choosing to abstain, and encourage the sexually active students to delay sexual activity,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“And 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 – with no physical or emotional ramifications.”
According to an OECD report, the New Zealand teenage pregnancy rate (28.4 per 1,000 teenagers aged 15 to 19 in 2006) was the second highest, behind the US. It was almost twice the rate of Australia and Canada, and over four times the rate in Denmark, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.
“The safe sex message is failing our young people and failing our families. 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.”
Families Say Broadcasting Standards Failing
2/3’rds of NZ’ers are concerned about the level of foul language, violence and sexual content during family viewing times and it is time that the Broadcasting Standards and Advertising Standards Authorities were made to reflect community and family concerns about what they are allowing.
In a poll of 1,000 NZ’ers, respondents were asked, “Television broadcasters are obliged to protect children from sexual content, violent material, and language that exceeds current norms of good taste and decency. Are you concerned about the type of language used, or the level of violence and sex shown on TV before 8.30 pm when children are likely to be watching?”, 65% said they are concerned, 29% said they aren’t, and 6% didn’t know or refused to answer. Women and over 60 year olds are most concerned.
“Ironically, this comes just after a report by the BSA trying to argue that people are becoming less offended by foul language in the media,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The BSA and ASA argue that their standards are reflecting community standards. However, it is quite clear that as they allow broadcasters and advertisers to push the boundaries, the standards are lowered by default, offensive material becomes more mainstream, and are then used far more in the media. But now we know that NZ’ers are hugely concerned by this trend.”
A Family First investigation of 15 programmes on four free-to-air channels between 6pm and 8.30pm in 2008 found a saturation of foul language, sexual innuendo, and promotion of Adult Only programmes.
Words featured during supposed family viewing times included b**ch, fu*k, a*s, pi**, bast**d, bl**dy, and included expressions such as “holy f**k”, “sex with your mother”, “shove bottle up his a** ”, and “a** bit** ”. Among the worst offenders was Two And A Half Men which screens on TV2 at 7.30pm. Offensive language included “son of a bit** “, “damn” “hell”, “a** “, and constant sexual talk including references to “licking”, “stiffy”, “orgasms”, and “masturbation”.
Also of huge concern was the number of programmes which are rated for Adult viewing only screening well after the watershed time of 8.30, yet were promoted between 6pm and 8.30pm. Examples included promos during TV1’s 6pm News for Virgin School screened at 9.30pm and Mistresses screened at 8.30pm, a promo on TV3 before 8.30 for Outrageous Fortune at 9.30pm including scenes of a strip show, and a promo for Playboy Mansion on C4 at 7pm.
“The term ‘broadcasting standards’ and ‘advertising standards’ are complete oxymorons. Parents do not want their children bombarded with foul language, violence, and sexual content – yet broadcasters are pushing the boundaries with little to no retribution,” says Mr McCoskrie. “The BSA and the ASA are the last places to look for a moral conscience and standards appropriate for families.”
Family First is calling for the development and enforcing of higher standards for TV, film, radio and advertising content including levels of violence, sexual content and objectionable language, and a complete overhaul of the BSA, ASA and Censorship Board with greater community representation and regular changing of board members after limited terms of office to avoid desensitisation or lack of accountability.
Stay-Home Parents Deserve Recognition
Half of NZ’ers support stay-home parents receiving subsidies similar to the 20-hours free childcare.
1,000 people polled were asked “Government subsidises 20 hours of care per week for 3 and 4 year old pre-schoolers in child-care centres. Should the Government give a similar subsidy to a parent who chooses not to send their children to a child-care centre but foregoes income by staying at home to look after the children themselves?” 51% said yes, 39% said no, and 10% either didn’t know or refused to answer.
“The Government’s early-childhood education spend is forecast to be $1.12 billion this year, up from $428m in 2005. But why does the government pay hundreds of millions for professionals to care for our children, but offer no tax breaks or financial recognition for parents who sacrifice careers and income to do it?, says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“It has been argued that childcare is simply a reflection of changing working patterns and family arrangements. However, it could also be argued that work patterns have changed because of the availability and government subsidizing of childcare.”
“The previous Labour government patted itself on the back for allowing 14 weeks paid parental leave – that’s 14 weeks for mum to bond with baby, recover from pregnancy and childbirth, and establish a breastfeeding and daily routine (the Ministry of Health recommends six months breastfeeding), ready to go back to work while baby goes into childcare.”
A Department of Labour study found that 70-75% of mums want at least 12 months paid parental leave. Most mums are going back to work after 6 months, not because they want to, but because of financial necessity. The Ministry of Social Development found that a third of all working couples say they are unhappy they both have to work. And almost 60% of mums with children under the age of three are rejecting work and are choosing to be fulltime mums.
“It’s time the work, commitment, and sacrifice of full-time parents of young children was respected and acknowledged with the appropriate support levels needed,” says Mr McCoskrie.