finds third of schools poor at sex education
Irish Examiner 23/09/2005
By Eithne Donnellan Health Correspondent
A third of schools across the State are doing little
to implement the department of Education's sex education
programme for students, the preliminary results
of new research indicate.
The research, which is examining the level of implementation
of the programme, has indicated that while one-third
of schools are excellent at implementing it, another
third are making a poor effort and the remainder
are somewhere in between. The study, to be published
next year, will also examine for the first time
teacher's feelings about delivering the programme,
a conference in Dublin heard yesterday.
The conference on Adolescent Sexual Behaviour and
Sexual Health at Trinity College Dublin heard calls
for changes in the current sex education programme
in schools to reflect changes in society, where
children are exposed to sexual images at an earlier
age. Children as young as eight are now asking questions
about sexual behaviour which are not addressed in
the current sex education programme in schools,
one delegate said.
Deirdre Seery, of the Sexual Health Centre in Cork,
said her centre was bombarded by requests from schools
to give talks to students, but there were "absolutely
pitiful resources" for this work. She complained
about the lack of a national sexual health strategy.
Dr Paula Mayock, senior researcher at the children's
research centre at TCD, said there had been " a
lack of political will" in this area, as well as
resources. "I suspect the Department of Health's
health promotion unit is not the most heavily resourced
unit within the department," she said.
Prof Mayock said sexual health education was a way
to empower young people and to promote sexual self
- acceptance and a positive view of sex and sexuality.
Prof Peter Aggleton, director of the Thomas Coram
Research Unit at the University of London said it
was a myth that parents did not want their children
taught about sex. He said a study showed a94 per
cent of parents in the UK approve of sex education
taking place in schools.
It was a myth to suggest that sex education programmes
only encourage promiscuity. Research had shown they
delayed the onset of sexual activity among those
not yet sexually active, and among those who were
sexually active, it promoted "more responsible forms
of sexual activity including condom use", he said.