Foreign students need sex education: Australian studyNovember 5th, 2009 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS
Melbourne, Nov 5 (IANS) There is an alarming lack of sexual knowledge among international students in Australia, says a study that followed statistics indicating one in three abortions at a hospital in the Australian city of Adelaide was performed on students from abroad.
Co-investigator of the study Nigel Stocks told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia the idea of going to a doctor for help and advice had never occurred to them.
“They didn’t quite understand the role of general practitioners in Australia, for instance, and that this help was available to them,” ABC Online quoted him as saying Thursday.
Stocks said it is clear there is a lack of sexual education in students’ home countries.
The research found the students had little idea about where to go for help and advice.
Researchers at Adelaide University questioned four groups of female students from China and Malaysia about their knowledge and attitudes on sex.
They found the students were more likely to become sexually active in Australia, even though they lacked the knowledge to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy.
Statistics indicate one in three abortions at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide was performed on students from abroad.
University staff have called for a national sex education strategy to help international students in Australia, ABC Online reported Thursday.
Stocks said by accepting the students, Australia had a responsibility to look after them.
“They’re quite young and this may be the first time that they’ve lived away from home and they need more guidance,” he said.
“I think there is a duty of care on the universities, the education system and also government, to provide some additional services … so that they don’t run into problems.
“Australia benefits greatly from having all these international students here, and … there should be some sort of national programme to provide appropriate information.”
Jill Michelson, an adviser at Marie Stopes International, which offers family planning and reproductive health care advice, says it is vital schools and universities step in and help vulnerable foreign students.
“They’re away from their families, they’re mixing with other students for the first time. They’ve got a degree of freedom I suppose, as well as a degree of uncertainty in that that they’re not knowing what they’re doing,” she said.
Stocks says past research indicates the more knowledgeable young people are, the less likely they are to get pregnant and to get sexually transmitted infections.
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