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Keywords:

  • sexuality education;
  • condoms;
  • parents

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Increasing correct and consistent condom use among sexually active adolescents continues to be a critical public health goal, with schools serving as key agents for achieving this goal through sexuality education and condom use provision. This research aims to describe the views of parents regarding school-based condom distribution and education programs, and examines how these views differ across demographic groups.

METHODS: Parents of school-age children in Minnesota were surveyed in telephone interviews (N = 1605; 63% participation) regarding their beliefs about condom availability and education. Chi-square tests of significance were used to detect differences in agreement with each statement for 10 demographic and personal characteristics.

RESULTS: A majority of respondents held supportive views about condom availability and education programs. Strongest support centered on statements in the survey about teenagers needing information about condoms (86%) and showing actual condoms during classroom lessons (77%). Approximately two thirds of the parents agreed that school-based instruction about condoms should be “allowed” at the high school level (65%), and one fifth (21%) believed that this type of education should be “required.” Support for condom availability and education programs differed significantly according to certain personal characteristics, with less supportive views from self-identified Born Again Christians and politically conservative parents.

CONCLUSIONS: Public discourse regarding school-based sexuality education should include the viewpoints of parents of school-aged children as key stakeholders. Parents' perspectives provide unique and critical insights that school administrators and educators should consider as they develop educational and programmatic offerings regarding condoms.