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Teens Conservative on Sex & Abortion Issues


8 January 2012

Teens Conservative on Sex & Abortion Issues - Poll



A nationwide poll of 600 young people aged 15-21 poll has found that they hold conservative values on sex issues – which are significantly similar to the views of parents.


When asked “Do you think sex education in schools should teach values, abstinence and consequences such as pregnancy, or just teach safe sex?” only 19% supported just the ‘safe sex’ message currently being taught in schools, with one in three (34%) wanting ‘values, abstinence, and consequences such as pregnancy’ taught instead, and a further 42% asking for a combination of both – especially amongst older teens. The support for just the ‘safe sex’ message dropped even lower for the older teens.

“This is a direct rebuke from young people 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.

“Many parents were rightly horrified last year when details of what was being taught in schools under the guise of ‘sex education’ surfaced. Judging by the results of the current approach – 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 continues to rise.”

“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 in terms of promiscuity, experimentation, and fringe behaviours – with little or no information on the physical or emotional ramifications or prevention of disease.”

In one example, a mixed class of boys and girls were asked by the AIDS Foundation if they had masturbated lately and were given condoms and strawberry-flavoured lubricant. They were also given a leaflet featuring graphic pictures, terms including "cock" and "wank", and advice on the best condoms. Reports last year highlighted that children as young as 12 are being taught about oral sex and told it’s acceptable to play with a girl’s private parts as long as “she’s okay with it”. In other cases, 14-year-old girls are being taught how to put condoms on plastic penises, and one female teacher imitated the noises she made during orgasm to her class of 15-year-olds. One concerned father took his 12-year-old son out of a sex education class at his all-boy school after he came home upset about what had happened during one of the lessons. It included a question-and-answer session that focused on, “I have learned that my girlfriend has a thing called a clitoris. I really want to play with it. Is that okay?” The answer was: “Yes, if you ask her and she’s okay with it.”

A poll 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.


When asked “Provided it won't put the girl in physical danger, should parents be told if their school-age daughter is pregnant and considering getting an abortion?” 59% of young respondents thought the parents should be told. 34% disagreed. More young men than women agreed, but both had majority agreement.

“It is significant that even young people can see the importance of having parents informed and involved, even when they know that those same parents will be rightly disappointed and upset. This is a very strong response from young people, 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 Mr McCoskrie.

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.

When parents were asked a similar question in a 2010 poll, 79% responded yes - only 12% said no.

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.


When asked “Do you believe an unborn child or foetus has a right to be born?” 56% of youth respondents said they believed an unborn child or foetus has a right to be born. Slightly more young women than young men agreed – 58% to 55%. Those aged 15 to 17 were strongest in support – 66%.

“This is a pleasantly pro-life view from our young people. A decision from the Court of Appeal last June that the law does not recognize or confer a right to life on the unborn child sends a dangerous message, and should make NZ’ers feel very queasy,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The message that an unborn child has absolutely no rights is completely inconsistent with warning messages about prenatal alcohol and drug use, recognising the unborn child as a victim with respect to violent crimes on pregnant women, and even the report released by Sir Peter Gluckman referring to ‘environmental risks that occur prenatally’.

“On the one hand we are imploring pregnant women to live a healthy lifestyle to enhance the wellbeing of their unborn child, yet on the other hand the courts are telling us that the child has no right to life. That’s a contradictory message that shows a complete disregard for the most vulnerable. Just when does a child obtain the right to live? 30 weeks? 40 weeks? In the birthing room? At the first Plunket visit?” asks Mr McCoskrie.

Family First is calling for a law change that gives an unborn child the same human rights as any other human being.

“Teenagers are right to say that we should not allow discrimination against our most vulnerable.”

The Curia Market Research poll surveyed 600 15-21 year olds nationwide. The poll was conducted between 4 and 6 December 2011 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.1%.


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