More Than 80% of Lower-Income U.S. Parents Support Comprehensive Sex Education, Survey Shows
More than 80% of lower-income parents and guardians in the United States support the provision of comprehensive sex education to young people both at home and in the classroom, according to a poll released yesterday by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The poll asked 803 lower-income parents and guardians of children between the ages of five and 18 about what kind of information they thought children should receive in schools about sex and sexuality. Eighty-one percent of respondents, all of whom were at or below 250% of the federal poverty level, said that they favored comprehensive sex education programs -- which include information about contraception, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and abstinence -- over abstinence-only education programs. Sixteen percent of respondents said that they preferred abstinence-only programs. In addition, more than 90% of respondents said that it is important for parents to discuss sex, contraception and STD prevention and abstinence with their children. The survey found, however, that many parents have not broached these topics with their children. Although 85% of respondents said that they are "comfortable" discussing sexual issues with their children, 20% of respondents with children ages 13 and 14 and 11% of respondents with children ages 15 to 18 have not discussed relationships and sexual activity with their teenagers. The poll states that parents may not be discussing sex with their children because many parents have not accessed "potentially helpful" sex education sources such as teachers, doctors, magazines or other parents ("Lower-Income Parents on Teaching and Talking with Children about Sexual Issues: Results from a National Survey," October 2002). In conjunction with the release of the report, SIECUS has launched a Web site -- www.familiesaretalking.org -- and a new publication offering guidance about how parents can speak to their children about sex (SIECUS release, 10/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.