Government Satisfaction Index
Government Satisfaction Index
1 in 3 parents lack the tools to talk to their kids about sex ed, and prefer to focus on consent over abstinence: Aware and Blackbox Survey
29 June 2020 – Parents in Singapore overwhelmingly believe that sexual consent should be taught in sexuality education programmes, rather than a focus on abstinence. This was a key finding in a new survey by independent research agency Blackbox and gender-equality organisation AWARE, aimed at exploring parents’ views on sex education in Singapore. Blackbox and…
29 June 2020 – Parents in Singapore overwhelmingly believe that sexual consent should be taught in sexuality education programmes, rather than a focus on abstinence.
This was a key finding in a new survey by independent research agency Blackbox and gender-equality organisation AWARE, aimed at exploring parents’ views on sex education in Singapore. Blackbox and AWARE surveyed 564 respondents between 13-20 Jan and 10-14 Feb. The result is the first nationally representative survey of parents on sex education conducted in Singapore in over a decade.
The survey respondents agreed with the Ministry of Education (MOE) that parents should bear the primary responsibility of teaching sexuality education to their children—yet at the same time, many lack the tools, comfort level and confidence to do this.
Who should teach sexuality education?
Almost all parents surveyed (95%) agreed that both themselves and their children’s schools have a role to play in sex education. Most parents believe that the task primarily should fall to them, with almost 70% ranking “parents” as the best persons to give sex education, and 13% ranking “school teachers” as the best. (That said, despite acknowledging the importance of their role, almost one in four parents—24%—admitted to being uninformed about what is taught during sex education in schools.)
Ms Shailey Hingorani, Head of Research and Advocacy at AWARE, pointed out that while parents feel comfortable discussing sexuality, their children might actually perceive a lack of parental support or encouragement on these issues. She cited a survey AWARE conducted with Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2018 on perceptions of youth relating to sexuality. Majority of the young respondents had rarely, or never, discussed sexual topics with their parents.”
“Close to 70% believed that their parents were rarely interested in their thoughts on sexual matters, or did not know if their parents were interested,” said Ms Hingorani. “This speaks to a gulf in communication and understanding, which may prevent parents from being able to sufficiently correct misconceptions and share their values with kids.”
Only one in five parents (21%) ranked “religious instructors” among their top three choices for informing their children on topics of sex, sexual health and sexual well-being.
What are parents comfortable discussing?
Parents were asked if they were comfortable discussing the topics of (a) sexual health, (b) intimate relationships and (c) sex with their children in an age-appropriate manner. While most parents were comfortable discussing topics of sexual health (57%) with their children, followed by romantic and intimate relationships (51%), less than half (49%) were comfortable discussing sex. Reasons given included embarrassment or a lack of confidence (25%), a lack of the appropriate tools to begin the conversation (35%) and the worry that the discussion would encourage their children to have sex (26%).
“We are glad to find that almost three-quarters of parents do not associate discussing sex with their children wanting to try it,” said Ms Hingorani. “After all, this position is backed up by expert opinion and research. Comprehensive sexuality education, which presents information in a factual rather than moralistic or alarmist manner, has been found to produce the outcomes that most parents desire: Youths start having sex at a later age, have fewer sexual partners, use condoms more consistently and contract sexually transmitted infections less often.”
What should sexuality education cover?
More than 4 in 5 parents (83%) expressed a desire for sex education curriculums to move away from abstinence as the core value.
Instead, the topic ranked most essential to include were sexual consent and sexual self-protection (both 86%). This was closely followed by sexually transmitted diseases (85%), then birth control and contraceptives (80%), then premarital abstinence (78%).
“We wholeheartedly agree with the survey respondents in the importance of teaching consent, even at a young age,” remarked Ms Hingorani. “We should remember, too, that the concept of consent is so much more than just a black-and-white ‘no means no’. Young people find themselves in real-life dynamics that are complex and nuanced. Effective consent education should take into account these real-life circumstances, which include peer pressure, hormonal changes and assimilated gender norms.”
Ms Hingorani said she hopes that MOE will find this survey informative in designing future sexuality education programmes.
“MOE, rightfully, pays heed to parents’ wishes in its decision-making,” she said. “The Ministry has already taken some steps in the right direction, tweaking its curriculum to focus less on anachronous and unrealistic concepts such as abstinence. We hope it continues on this path and considers the more pragmatic and fact-driven perspective revealed by this survey—one that reflects a modern society’s values.”
David Black, the Founder/CEO of Blackbox agreed on the need for parents and schools to be aligned when it comes to sex education.
“The findings clearly show that modern parents understand that sex education today has various dimensions and that their children need to get guidance both at home and at school. Social attitudes are always evolving and it’s crucial that parents both understand and feel comfortable with what their children are learning outside the home. This will help them to better shape their own one on one conversations without fear of sounding contradictory or out of step.”
AWARE is Singapore’s leading women’s rights and gender-equality advocacy group. It works to identify and eliminate gender-based barriers through research, advocacy, education, training and support services. AWARE embraces diversity respects the individual and the choices she makes in life and supports her when needed. aware.org.sg
Blackbox Research is one of Asia’s leading data content specialists and fully independent social research agency. We specialise in data content and provide research and affiliated data-plus communications services for business, governments and non-governmental organisation clients across Asia. In Singapore, Blackbox Research is recognised as the ‘go-to’ agency for community and policy insights, and enjoys a strong reputation as a reliable provider of insights on current issues and topics impacting societies across Southeast Asia. Blackbox also has expanded its reach across the region, covering all markets across Southeast Asia as well as China, India, and the greater East Asia region. Visit www.blackbox.com.sg for further information.
For more information, please contact:
Chris Koh – Head of Communications
Telephone: +65 9765 4388
 The last national survey on parents’ communication with children about sex education known to the researchers was conducted in 2008-2009. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229437226_
People in rich, developed countries are increasingly disillusioned, and realising that politicians are short on long-term answers. These nations need to agree on a new approach to managing the future and a fresh compact with their society and the rest of the planet. I thought the end of the world would look different. There are…
People in rich, developed countries are increasingly disillusioned, and realising that politicians are short on long-term answers.
These nations need to agree on a new approach to managing the future and a fresh compact with their society and the rest of the planet.
I thought the end of the world would look different. There are no horsemen, no mushroom cloud, no alien spacecraft. Just sweatpants and Zoom. As it turns out, rumours of our demise have been exaggerated.
If you live in the developed world, the first 20 years of this century might have resembled the apocalypse in slow motion – from September 11 to Sars, the war on terror, the global financial crisis, technological disruption and Islamic State, to Trumpian anxiety and now Covid-19. Are we reliving the Crusades or fast-forwarding to the dystopian world of Blade Runner?
And yet, for many others, the 21st century has also been a revelation. Money to spend, real-time connections with the world, the Babylonian wonders of urban life and much more.
THE (DEVELOPED) WORLD IN CRISIS
Time and again, data and insights have supported this dichotomy. For years now, polling and analysis have pointed to growing levels of dissatisfaction and malaise in a number of rich countries. This is against the backdrop of people who are not only living better lives, but empowered with opportunities thanks to greater mobility and education, which have transformed their existence.
When my own research company decided to look at global reactions to the Covid-19 crisis, we wanted to know if this contrariety was as evident with the entire world now huddling indoors confronting a different type of international crisis.
Our study, titled “World in Crisis”, measured the sentiments of citizens from 23 countries towards their national Covid-19 crisis management efforts. While the focus of the news coverage has predominantly been on our political findings and how our leaders have performed, in many ways these results are less interesting and largely predictable. What really stood out to us were the wider perceptions of how business, media and communities were seen to have responded.
The results, which have been reported in nearly 30 countries to date, show that most countries were rated poorly across the board. The major revelation for me was how people in the majority of the world’s most advanced countries – both in the East and the West – were not only shocked and surprised by how quickly the crisis overran their daily lives, but also expressed a wider impression of being let down, giving a sense that they had expected more. Performance ratings for business leaders, health care systems, and even local communities and neighbourhoods all scored more poorly in advanced nations.
Our findings, from the United States to Italy to Japan, all point to one thing – people living in wealthier nations feel isolated and vulnerable in a way they have not felt for generations. Of the 11 developed countries and territories covered in the study, only New Zealand scored above average in our index. Who knew the Kiwis were living in the last well-appointed bungalow in a run-down neighbourhood?
A REJECTION OF THE TRUTH
Despite long-standing evidence going back even before our study, we are witnessing a level of denialism, with some commentators suggesting the scores do not reflect on the best route ahead. The wealthier nations, they argue, just needed time to organise their resources in response to such an unprecedented event. Once this happens, they claim, public opinion will soon shift. Yet the most recent polling in nearly all of these countries indicates that perceptions have actually deteriorated further.
Japan and France, for example, scored the lowest in our index, and public opinion in both countries remains anaemic. Yet the responses from these countries hardly feel like outliers. South Korea, which scored fourth lowest on our index, even voted to overwhelmingly re-elect a president during the crisis. So, in all likelihood, the index scores reflect more than simple antagonism towards political leaders. Something else is going on.
On the other end, some have argued that countries which scored well are often authoritarian and have leaned on state-controlled media to the extent that people tell pollsters that everything is hunky dory. While media diet can have some influence in what people tell pollsters, it does not tell the full picture. Singapore, Thailand and even Iran are all dominated by state media, yet none of them recorded stellar results in our study. Barking up the propaganda tree only gets you so far.
Two months on, the vulnerability expressed in our study by people in advanced countries largely remains. It also appears to fit along a continuum that has been developing for some time now – the unravelling of the self-belief and confidence that emerged after World War II and peaked with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, but was still rock solid at the end of the 20th century.
TIME TO SET THINGS RIGHT
The rich global disillusionment reflected so obviously in our poll, as well as in others conducted during the current crisis, has not arisen out of nowhere. It demonstrates a real sense that all is not right. The emotional mindset also goes well beyond anger. There is a growing realisation that political and business leaders are short on long-term answers, and “community” is now a term more likely associated with social media than social cohesion.
What this crisis has done more than anything else is expose the real flaws and weaknesses that have been emergent in advanced countries for many years. The scab has been peeled off, and the wound is worse than we thought.
The findings in our study revealed something pertinent: it is time for developed nations to truly reflect on the way forward. The idea that those living in successful, advanced countries can look forward to perpetual advancement is no longer a given. More and more people are coming to comprehend that. This crisis, more than all the other recent ones, has laid this bare.
With that, confidence can only be regained through new ideas and action. Developed countries need to agree on a new approach to managing the future and a fresh compact with the rest of the world. As with a major war, Covid-19 has left everyone with heavy losses, and now is the time to acknowledge that simply trying to paper over long-standing flaws (that are much worse than most have been prepared to concede) is not going to offer either stability or hope.
These could include rethinking the global institutional framework – whether it is for trade, health, finance or even technology. Countries also need to reconstitute and develop new forums to include a more diverse representation of key global stakeholders. In the same way leaders have been forced to address changing attitudes and demands on race and gender in recent years, they now need to expand this change of approach to society itself.
So, it turns out once again that the apocalypse is not nigh. People too often confuse end times with a reshuffling of the order. Those who have enjoyed sitting in the premium seats for a long time will have to pay more for them or give them up altogether.
As Michael Stipe sang, it’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.
In this Op-ed, Blackbox Research Founder and CEO David Black discusses the emergent implications of COVID-19 for global citizen. This Op-ed has been published by SCMP and national news outlets in the region.
If you are interested to read the full study, please download it here.
COVID-19: What Have We Learned During the Circuit Breaker Period
Here at Blackbox, we are dedicated to observing and measuring every aspect of current Singaporean perspectives whether it is a shift in attitudes or a change behaviour. With the start of the COVID19 crisis, we doubled down on our research efforts and since early April, we have been taking the pulse of the Singaporean community…
Here at Blackbox, we are dedicated to observing and measuring every aspect of current Singaporean perspectives whether it is a shift in attitudes or a change behaviour. With the start of the COVID19 crisis, we doubled down on our research efforts and since early April, we have been taking the pulse of the Singaporean community on a weekly basis. We are looking into every angle of Singaporeans’ COVID-19 experience – from people’s mood to public sentiments on governmental response to the crisis, as well as how individual Singaporeans are coping with the various restrictions imposed on them.
Here are three key things we have learned during this unprecedented period:
Negative emotions dominated as we tried to manage our lives through CB restrictions
Uncertainty, frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, and sadness dominated the emotions of Singaporeans for the last two months. Younger Singaporeans, 15-24 year-olds, felt more anxious (45%) while middle-high income households say felt feel higher levels of frustration and anger (53%).
Singapore still on track but economic sentiment is very low
Despite the impacts of COVID-19 on Singapore, we have seen little variation in the right track/wrong track sentiment among Singaporeans all year. This is a signal that Singaporeans continue to trust that the Government still has a firm grip on keeping the nation afloat and creating success for the nation in the future. However, while less than half of all Singaporeans felt 2020 was going to be worse economically for them than 2019 in the first part of the year, the numbers have risen and remain consistently above 50% since the beginning of the CB, even tipping over 60% at certain points in May.
The Government’s Handling of the COVID19 Crisis Has Held Up
Despite widespread criticism over the escalation of COVID19 cases amongst foreign workers and the various mixed signals to the public on what people should do and not do, Singaporeans largely think that the Government has handled the crisis pretty well up until the end of May. Having said that, Government Performance metrics have ended up where it started in terms of public perceptions which suggests that while its hand was not weakened through the crisis, it was not strengthened either.
As more shops and businesses prepare to reopen, wallets and purses are a’ twitching – what do Singaporeans plan to splurge on after CB? Is there an appetite for spending? Our May YKA study finds that 39% of Singaporeans claim they have spent more during the CB than in the period before. Increased spending was…
As more shops and businesses prepare to reopen, wallets and purses are a’ twitching – what do Singaporeans plan to splurge on after CB? Is there an appetite for spending?
Our May YKA study finds that 39% of Singaporeans claim they have spent more during the CB than in the period before. Increased spending was more evident amongst medium income families who may have spent more on home delivery of groceries and food.
Conversely, 43% of Singaporeans say they spent less during the CB than the period before. About one in four of 15-24-year-olds say they have reduced their spending by 50%, demonstrating how much of their disposable income was largely dedicated to lifestyle and leisure spending.
Having been cooped up at home for some time, more than half (57%) of Singaporeans intend to increase their spending post-Circuit Breaker. Dining out (still restricted in Phase 1) is the top choice, especially amongst older women and Gen Zers. Women are also more likely to splash on personal grooming while Gen Zers are keen to get acquire new threads (clothing) and men are more likely to want to get their hands on the latest tech gadgets.
With the Circuit Breaker ending on June 1, we asked Singaporeans to share which activities they are looking forward to doing the most when outside life resumes. First and foremost, we have missed hanging out with those we are closest to. The top activity to do, picked by 32% of Singaporeans, was seeing friends and…
With the Circuit Breaker ending on June 1, we asked Singaporeans to share which activities they are looking forward to doing the most when outside life resumes.
First and foremost, we have missed hanging out with those we are closest to. The top activity to do, picked by 32% of Singaporeans, was seeing friends and loved ones. Just under one in four (24%) are looking forward to leaving the house to do things other than getting food or groceries the most and a similar proportion want to go back to work.
Interestingly, the desire to return to workplace is most strongly expressed by professional Gen X (35-49 year-olds) males of higher income.
Tired of home cooked meals? Younger Singaporeans (15-24 year-olds) are most looking forward to having a meal outside of home (24%) while Singaporeans living in medium-high income households are the most eager to satisfy their retail therapy urge at local malls rather than relying on e-commerce to pass the time (16%).