A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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Those informants who had not seen the V.D. statement were shown a photostat copy of it so that they might give their opinion about the publication of such a statement.

All informants except for the 3% with whom interviews had been abandoned were asked: “Do you agree or disagree with the Ministry of Health telling people about things like this in the newspapers or on the wireless?” (Question 10) Replies were follows:-

Agree 92
Disagree 2
Doubtful 3
No information 3
SAMPLE: 2459

Thus a very substantial majority agreed with the publication of the statement.

Breakdowns by sex and by income groups show no statistically significant differences.

A breakdown by age group shows a difference only in the case of the youngest (under 20) group, of whom 9% were doubtful.

It will be remembered that this, group showed less knowledge of V.D. than other, group and it is possible that some of those who were doubtful did not understand what the statement was about even when shown the photostat copy.

Interviewers were told to write down any remarks made, in answer to this question beyond simple expressions of agreement or disagreement. 58% of the sample made additional remarks. These were classified as follows:

(1) Should have been done before. Too much secrecy 14 54
(2) Should tell us more and use other methods as well 7
(3) Everyone should know. Important that people should know 33
Qualified Agreement
(4) Young children should not be told but some publicity is necessary 1 2
(5) Publicity should be tactful. Delicate subject 1
(6) Should not be published. Should be kept private 2
No Remarks 42
SAMPLE: 2459

Thus more than half reinforced their agreement with further remarks, the majority saying that it was important that people should know about V.D., and a smaller proportion saying there had been too much secrecy up to the present or that still more publicity was needed.

Similar proportions of men and of women made such remarks but there is some difference in the proportions making different types of remark under the heading “Agreement”.

Men Women
% %
(1) Should have been done before. Too much secrecy 17 53 11 54
(2) Should tell us more and use other methods as well 8 6
(3) Everyone should know. Important that people should know 28 37

The men were rather more positive than the women, a higher proportion saying there had been too much secrecy.

Only 40% of the youngest age group made additional remarks. Otherwise there are no statistically significant differences between age groups, the proportions giving different types of answer being very close.

A slightly higher proportion in the higher income groups than in the lower made additional remarks, but there are no differences in the types of remark made.

Of men who had been in the last war a relatively high proportion, 23% said that there had been too much secrecy, or that there should have been publicity before.

A few examples of the types of remark made are as follows:-

Agreement (92%)

“I think it ought to have been done years ago. There is so much ignorance about it”.

“I think it should be published all over the country. It’s a thing that should be open “.

“It’s wise. Young girls don’t realise the danger”.

“Yes, it’s a good thing to put these things in the public view”.

“People ought to know”.

“Yes, I think it should be broadcast. Everyone should be told, even children”.

Qualified Agreement ( 3% )

“Provided no public affront is caused, very good. More knowledge of these subjects helps to prevent them”.

“The trouble is that children read the papers. But I think somehow folk should be told about it”.

Disagreement ( 2% )

“It’s not a matter for publication at all. It’s very bad that children should learn of these things in this way”.

“Everything to do with the subject should be kept private”.

Those informants who had read the statement were asked: “Do you think people will find the statement easy to understand or is there anything you think could have been put more clearly?” (Question 11a)

% those who had read statement % whole sample
Quite clear. Easily understood 77 56
Put as clearly as it can be 3 2
Should be more about infection, intercourse 2 1
Should be more about symptoms 5 4
Other people (young people etc.) many not understood it 3 2
Could be more simple. Words are difficult 6 4
Could be put more clearly in talks, pamphlets, films, etc. 1 1
Don’t know. No opinion. 3 2
No asked. (Did not read, etc.) - 28
1768 2459

Breakdowns by sex and income group show no statistically significant difference.

The youngest age group shows 10% of those who read the statement answering that it should be more simple and that some of the words wore difficult. As the number who read the statement in this group was small (150) this result is subject to a wide margin of error. However, it is given here as it seems to bear out other evidence is this report.

All informants who agreed with the publication of the statement were asked: “Do think this is the best way of telling people about V.D. or can you think of a better way?” (Question 12)

Informants were asked which way they thought it would be best to tell people about V.D. and only the first choice was recorded.

Results were as follows:-

Yes. Best way 52
Yes, but use other ways too 12
Would prefer: Films 8
Lectures 5
Wireless talks 5
Posters 1
There should be education in schools 4
Miscellaneous 3
Don’t know and no opinion 7
No information 3
SAMPLE: 2459

It will be seen that the newspaper statement is preferred by more than half, relatively small proportions thinking that other media would be better.

The 12% who said that other ways should be used too did not say which way they thought would be best.

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