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Healthy Respect Advocates for Parents in Sex Ed Debate

Appearing on a televised segment of Regional News Network (RNN), which reaches 5 million households in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Healthy Respect's Chief Executive Officer expressed support for parents who object to a New Jersey sex education program that encourages peer counselors to discuss condoms and other sensitive issues with younger students.

CEO John P. Margand, Esq., was invited to the RNN's Westchester studios last Friday (February 15) to discuss the sex-ed program, called "New Jersey Teen PEP", which made headlines after complaints from concerned parents. One father was quoted in a news report as stating that he did not want his daughter to hear about condoms from a teen boy on a Friday night. The program is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Health.

In a discussion with RNN reporter Karen DePodwin, Mr. Margand said that parents must be recognized as the primary educators of their children in matters of sexuality. Rather than undermining the values and authority of parents, he said, school systems have an obligation to encourage and empower parents to take an active role in their children's education in this area.

"Peer pressure is a force of nature which can be harnessed for good or ill," said Mr. Margand. "Using peer educators can be an effective means of promoting healthy choices, provided that the educators reflect the values of the parents." Healthy Respect trains peer educators to convey an abstinence message that is widely supported by parents. "The problem with the New Jersey program is not with peer educators per se, but rather that the program promotes the myth of 'safe sex' for teens. There is no such thing as 'safe sex' for teens, since study after study reveals that condoms provide inadequate protection from the risk of disease, teen pregnancy, and the emotional consequences associated with premature sexual activity."

Mr. Margand cited a 2007 study showing that more than 90 percent of parents want teens to be taught to abstain from sexual activity at least until they have finished high school, with 84 percent of parents favoring the teaching of abstinence until a couple is married or close to marriage. Another study found that more than 90 percent of teens agree that they should be taught to abstain from sex until they have at least finished high school.

"Condom-based sex-ed programs have failed to stem the rapid rise in sexually transmitted infections among teens, despite receiving heavy government funding for decades," said Mr. Margand.
He cited a recent review of 50 well-designed evaluation studies dating back to 1990 that found that none of the condom-based programs increased the prevalence of consistent condom use among adolescents for a period of greater than one year. "Comprehensive sex education programs have consistently failed to meet the low standards that they set for themselves and the youth they purport to serve," he said.

After his appearance on RNN, Mr. Margand commented, "Healthy Respect welcomes the opportunity to express support for parental authority regarding the sexual education of their children. We include parents in the very structure of our abstinence for marriage program and seek to empower them to talk to their teens about sensitive issues."