The Story: A national survey commissioned by the National Abstinence Education Foundation (NAEF) finds that the vast majority of parents of children ages 9-16 support abstinence education
The Background: As the NAEF notes, abstinence education is an approach that gives teens information and skills that are intended to help them avoid all the possible negative consequences of teen sex, including but not limited to, the physical consequences of STDs and pregnancy (a Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) approach. By contrast, “comprehensive” sex education is almost entirely focused on skills to help teens reduce the physical consequences of sex through the usage of contraception (a Sexual Risk Reduction (SRR) approach.
According to NAEF, 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 +/- 2 percentage points.
The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:
• Nearly 8 of 10 Democrats and 9 in 10 Republicans support abstinence education.
• The survey results suggest that while all demographic groups support the concept of “abstinence until marriage” by a large margin, African American parents appear to overwhelmingly desire that their children wait for marriage to initiate sex.
• Although the majority of both men and women expressed support for abstinence education, in almost each measure, women voiced stronger support than men.
• Nearly 9 in 10 parents strongly support their children knowing the limitations of condoms for preventing pregnancy and disease.
• More than 8 of 10 parents, but especially women and African Americans, support the dominant themes of abstinence education, such as: renewed abstinence for sexually experienced; sexually transmitted diseases; teaching the limitations of condoms; learning most teens aren’t having sex; and the emotional consequences of sexual activity.
• Almost 60% of Democrats and more than 70% of Republicans oppose President Obama’s efforts to eliminate all funding for Sexual Risk Avoidance Abstinence Education.
• Democrats and Republicans alike support more equality in funding between Abstinence Education and “Comprehensive” Sex Education, which gets 16 times as much funding. (D: 67%, R: 64%)