(BPT) - Melvella Bryant was delighted when her 12-year-old daughter said she wanted to wait until marriage to have sex. But Bryant is concerned the seventh-grader may hear a different message at her public school.
“I want my daughter’s school to reinforce, not contradict, what I’m teaching at home,” says Bryant, of Yonkers, N.Y. “I want her school to support her decision to wait until marriage.”
Bryant’s view is hardly unique among parents, according to a recent national survey.
The survey shows that 79 percent of parents with children ages 9 to 16 want them to receive abstinence education. Support among African-Americans parents, like Bryant, is even higher, with 86 percent supporting abstinence education for their child.
“This survey’s findings 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,” says Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Foundation (NAEF), which commissioned the survey.
Other findings include:
* Nearly eight of 10 Democrats and nine of 10 Republicans support abstinence education.
* Almost 60 percent of Democrats and more than 70 percent of Republicans oppose the idea of eliminating all funding for abstinence education.
* Democrats and Republicans alike support more equality in funding between abstinence education and comprehensive sex education.
* Eighty-five percent of parents believe that all youth, including homosexual youth, benefit from skills that help them choose to wait for sex.
Now a parent with a 14-year-old son, Katrina Hobbs of Conway, Ark., recalls how she didn’t hear a positive message about abstinence in her home or at her school.
“I never heard the beauty of why you should wait,” says Hobbs. “I really wish I had heard that message so I could have had all of the information I needed to make a good decision. I want that for my son.”
The survey shows nearly nine in 10 parents strongly support their children knowing the limitations of condoms for preventing pregnancy and disease. Hobbs wants her son to have those facts as well.
“You can’t help but see the truth in abstinence,” says Hobbs. “It’s self-evident that if you are abstaining until marriage, there is zero chance of pregnancy. It’s self evident that if you are abstaining there is zero chance of sexually transmitted diseases and zero chance of emotional scars that come with all those broken sexual relationships.”
While other surveys have addressed opinions on sex education in general with a question or two about abstinence education, this is the most extensive poll focusing specifically on abstinence education's approach and themes.
Conducted by Pulse Opinion Research in mid-September, the survey asked 23 questions of 1,683 parents across the country with children ages 9-16. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
A full survey report and an opportunity to sign an open letter to Congress that asks for increased abstinence education funding can be found at www.whattheytoldus.org, a website that reports polling data about abstinence education.