Parents prefer realistic sex education: study

May 20th, 2008 - 2:27 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, May 20 (IANS) Unlike in India, most parents in Australia support comprehensive sex education programmes right from primary school. And a majority of them want these programmes to be realistic - focussing on birth control and safe sex rather than abstinence, a new study has found.

“A vast majority of parents want sex education to cover issues such as birth control methods and safer sex, and sex as part of a loving relationship (respectively 98 and 97 percent),” noted Allison Macbeth of the University of Sydney, who led the study.

In contrast, just 32 percent of parents said abstinence as a topic was “very or extremely important”.

“A small but vocal minority of parents give the impression through the media that the majority of parents want abstinence-only education for their children,” Macbeth pointed out.

“But my research shows parents who support abstinence-only education are a minority. In fact, 15 percent of parents think the topic of abstinence should be banned outright from sex education classes.”

The study found that a majority of parents support a comprehensive sex education curriculum beginning in primary school, before their children are sexually active, so they can make their own decisions about their sexual health, including the choice to be sexually active.

Australia has the second-highest rate of teenage pregnancy and ever-increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections.

The study found young people wanted to learn about the emotional, relational and psychological aspects of sex in school programmes, but were not getting this information.

Instead, the typical sex education class includes discussion on condom use, STIs and biology.

“It is essential that parents supportive of sex education get involved. It is this majority that needs to get active so that the minority of abstinence-only advocates do not gain control of school sex education programmes, thus further reducing young people’s decision making abilities regarding their sexual health by limiting the information they are exposed to,” said Macbeth.

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