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    Survey of parents' ability to answer questions on family life.

    Association Zairoise pour le Bien-Etre Familial; Population Council

    In: Operations research family planning database project summaries, [compiled by] Population Council. New York, New York, Population Council, 1993 Mar. [2] p. (ZAI-16)

    In 1987, the Zairian International Planned Parenthood affiliate, AZBEF, researched adolescents' reproductive health information needs, at a cost of US $2,739, by interviewing more than 10,000 students aged 15 to 27 in schools in the Kinshasa and Bas-Zaire regions. Of approximately 2,000 questions the students asked about sexuality, AZBEF selected 160, representing physiological knowledge, sexually transmitted disease (STD), and contraceptives (including sterility and abortion), to design a booklet on family life education for young people. In February 1991, the national family planning (FP) association, PSND, joined with AZBEF to explore parents' ability to respond to children's concerns about sexuality. In March 1991, they approached The Population Council to design and carry-out a sample survey to determine the proportion of parents open to providing family life education for their children, their capacity to provide it, reasons they would disapprove of such education, and the impact of sexual taboos on the dissemination and understanding of reproductive health information. To collect the data, 30 questions were chosen from AZBEF's list of 160 and a random sample of 500 parents (50% mothers) aged 25 to 55 was selected from 22 of 24 zones (231 neighborhoods) in Kinshasa. Information was gathered during 10 days in April and May 1991. Questions were categorized as: sexual experiences; knowledge about reproductive health, adolescent sexuality, and STDs; attitudes towards contraceptive use by adolescents; and appropriate scholastic programs for introducing family life education. The results provide the basis for an information, education, and communication (IEC) strategy in FP for both PSND and AZBEF. Levels of knowledge about contraceptive methods were 91% in fathers and 84% in mothers. Yet, approximately 75% of parents thought that educating girls about contraception encouraged promiscuous sexual behavior. Abstinence was the most recommended method for both sexes to avoid pregnancy, followed by the condom for boys and the rhythm method for girls. Surprisingly, 62% of the respondents were willing to speak with their children about sex education; 50% of mothers and 20% of fathers stated that they had already done so. Of the 38% who were reluctant to speak with their children about this subject, 58% of males and 60% of females had distinct reasons for not doing so, age being the primary factor. Many deferred this responsibility to other members of the family or community; husbands would often assign this role to their wives, and vice versa, and parents saw the aunt as an important information source for the youth. 36.4% of fathers indicated that youths could go to the FP center to obtain this information, while 59.6% of the mothers preferred youths to visit a local minister. Most parents were aware of STDs, while holding false information about their transmission; 86% believed that kissing is a major form of transmission of STDs, along with handshakes, exchange of clothes, and use of the same latrines. This study provides the basis for future development of a family life education program tailored for the young people of Zaire.
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