A majority of American parents favor a message to teens that promotes abstaining from sexual activity, according to a new poll.

Out of the 1,004 parents surveyed across the nation, 96 percent said abstinence is best for teens, according to Zogby International, which was commissioned by Focus on the Family to conduct the poll.

Ninety-one percent said the best choice is for sexual activity to be linked to love, intimacy and commitment.

These are the qualities most likely to occur in a faithful marriage, says the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council.

“For too long, teenagers have been fed the lie that reliance on contraception amounts to ‘safe sex.’ It doesn’t,” said Genevieve Wood, the FRC’s vice president of communications. “Parents are waking up to the fact that schools aren’t teaching their children the values of love, commitment and basic life choices that lead to building a healthy marriage.”

Wood emphasized parents are the most significant factor in curbing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

“Study after study indicates that when teenagers perceive that their parents, particularly their mothers, strongly disapprove of them having sex, they are more likely to delay sexual activity,” she said.

Wood said educators who promote “comprehensive sex education,” including encouraging teens to use condoms, have tried to paint supporters of abstinence as “moral and religious zealots who just don’t want children and teenagers to know about sex.”

“But with 3 million teens each year contracting a sexually transmitted disease, it’s time we take a closer look at what sex education messages are being taught in our nation’s classrooms,” she said. “Today’s poll results show that when parents take a closer look, they soundly support abstinence-centered education.”

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