When asked, only about one in four Kentucky parents describe the meals served at their child's schools or day care centers as being nutritious. Fewer than 10 percent report that their child have ever walked or biked to school. And an overwhelming majority want information about sexually transmitted infections, human anatomy, abstinence education, birth control methods and condom use taught in Kentucky's high schools.
These are just a few of the surprising results from the first Kentucky Parent Survey conducted by the Foundation for a Health Kentucky, a random telephone survey of 1,006 parents of children under 18. The survey assessed the views of parents, step-parents, grandparents, foster parents and other legal guardians of children in Kentucky. The term "school" was used broadly in the survey as included (2 percent of total surveyed), as well those in pre-school and day care. The study took on nutrition, physical activity and health education.
Eighty-eight percent of parents reported that it was "very important" that meals at schools meet a minimum standard for nutritional value. Only about 1 in 4 parents currently thought their schools were meeting that standard. Only 11 percent are concerned that their younger children are getting too many "celebration-related" treats at their school.
While parents in the state reported that a little more than half (52 percent) of school-age children took physical education classes, that class was not a daily occurrence but met between one and four times a week. Only about 1 in 3 students took a daily course in P.E. That leaves 14 percent without a planned daily class during the school year.
On the topic of health education, parents reported that half of school-age children in the state took health classes, but again not daily. According to the FHK, "The Kentucky Parent Survey included a series of questions about dating relationships and sexual health to determine support for covering those topics...
At the middle school level, more than 8 in 10 parents would favor teaching communication skills (99 percent), human anatomy (91 percent), abstinence education (85 percent), and information about HIV and sexually transmitted infections (84 percent). At the high school level, more than 8 in 10 would favor teaching communication skills (99 percent), information about HIV and sexually transmitted infections (97 percent), human anatomy (97 percent), abstinence education (94 percent), birth control methods (87 percent), and condom use (84 percent)."
Future reports in the FHV series will address access to safe and effective health care for children, children's health behaviors and family routines and the places where parents turn for information on raising healthy kids.