“The underlying messages to a 13 year old is that we’re expecting them to have sex, it’s ok to have sex despite it being underage, here’s a 12-pack of condoms, and these condoms will protect you from any consequences,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “That is a foolish and dangerous message to be sending.”
“The condoms are also being issued without parental notification or permission. The schemes are undermining the role and supervision of parents.”
“Whacky schemes like these, and sex education materials in New Zealand dangerously overstate the degree of protection young people can expect from condoms, even when correctly used. The anything-goes, condom-based approach to sexual health is dangerous.”
“The current approach in NZ sows confusion about right and wrong and says the moral absolute is – use condoms. The government should fund evidence-based education resources which are approved by parents rather than saying one thing to parents and another to their children – and in the process, also undermining the law,” says Mr McCoskrie.
A survey of parents in 2010 found that 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. And teens feel the same. A nationwide poll of 600 people aged 15-21 found only 19 per cent agreed that schools should teach just safe sex, with one in three (34%) wanting ‘values, abstinence, and consequences such as pregnancy’ taught instead, and 42% wanting a combination of both – especially older teenagers.
“Judging by the current approach’s results – which is a good place to start – sex education has been an utter failure. New Zealand has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the OECD, our STD rates are out of control, and the number of teenage girls having abortions is tragically high.”
“Schemes like these and 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 terms of promiscuity, experimentation, and fringe behaviours – with little or no information on the physical or emotional ramifications or prevention of disease,’ says Mr McCoskrie.
US psychiatrist Dr Miriam Grossman who recently wrote a report on sex education in NZ says “A premise of modern sex education is that young people have the right to make their own decisions about sexual activity, and no judging is allowed. Risky behaviours are normalised and even celebrated. Children and adolescents are introduced to sexual activities their parents would prefer they not even know about, let alone practice. It’s reasonable to ask: is the ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ foisted on young people all over the world about sexual health, or sexual licence?” says Dr Grossman.
In the UK, a multi-million pound initiative to reduce teenage pregnancies more than doubled the number of girls conceiving. The Government-backed scheme tried to persuade teenage girls not to get pregnant by handing out condoms and teaching them about sex. A survey by Melbourne’s La Trobe University in 2010 found an increase in risky alcohol consumption among Australia’s teens has led to more sex “under the influence” and more partners, but not more condom use.
“Handing out condoms like lollies to young teens is both foolish and dangerous – and does not give them the protection they really need,” says Mr McCoskrie.