Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lucia Do we need more "comprehensive sex education" for children?

Just the sort of thing I need to get me all riled up on a Sunday morning. But, I managed to save it until the evening.
A visiting American expert in adolescent sexual behaviour says better sex education programmes are needed in New Zealand schools.
Uh oh!
Dr Douglas Kirby has spent many years studying what makes some sex education programmes more effective than others, and believes that if New Zealand wants to address its high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) it needs a more consistent and comprehensive approach towards teaching sex education in schools.
Still has me worried!
New Zealand has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the developed world, with about 28 teenagers out of 1000 having a child in any one year. We also have high rates of STIs, particularly chlamydia. A 2009 Public Health Surveillance Report found the national number of cases of diagnosed chlamydia rose by 25% between 2004 and 2008. About 71% of those affected were under 25.

It is estimated by public health officials that one-third of Year 9 and Year 10 pupils – most under the age of 15 – are having sexual relationships.

That age group of year 9 and 10 children having sex is pretty damn shocking.  When I was at high-school in the 80's, that was not happening.  That's 3rd and 4th formers!  My son's age!  I'm horrified.
Kirby, who is internationally known for his work in the field of adolescent sexuality, particularly for his reviews of the research on school and community programmes to reduce adolescent sexual risk-taking behaviours, said part of the problem in New Zealand appeared to be that sex education was not implemented with reliability.
And the parents are not helping. I've heard so many parents express the view that children are going to have sex early. There is no expectation of a higher standard even for their own children.  Many just give their kids condoms, probably in an effort to minimise the damage, but I'm sure this in some way gives those children the endorsement to go ahead.
A wide variation existed in schools as to what was taught and when. Ideally, sex education in schools should begin before students started to engage in sexual activity, Kirby said. At that point, the emphasis should be on abstinence as the only surefire way to prevent pregnancy and STIs.
Wow.  Amazing.  An international sex expert who endorses abstinence! 
But as students progressed through school, physically matured, and more of them engaged in sexual activity, the message should be broadened to include the importance of using condoms, or other forms of contraception.
But here he loses it.
"The programmes should be interactive so it is not just an educator lecturing to the students, but a programme which involves the students participating in games, exercises, simulations, role playing and a whole variety of things so that you really personalise the information that is given... so they themselves conclude that avoiding unprotected sex is really the right decision," said Kirby, who is in Wellington this weekend to speak at the Family Planning Conference. The conference draws together health professionals from around New Zealand to discuss sexual and reproductive health issues.
No, no, no!  Games, exercises, simulations, role playing sound like a great way of breaking down natural inhibitions, which will lead to greater sexual activity! 
Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond said the conference was an opportunity "to learn from the international experts and to do what we can to turn up the volume on the conversations that need to be had if New Zealanders are to benefit from improved sexual and reproductive health".
Family planning will happily learn from this international expert where he talks about the games, the exercise and role playing and simulations, but ignore anything he has to say on abstinence.  What little there was of it.

And why not expect abstinence from older teenagers? They are not animals. We expect them to control themselves enough so that they don't rape others, why not expect a lot more? Why not ask them to save themselves for the one they will commit to for the rest of their lives? Answer, because the adults educating them won't even be able to model that. Yet, that is the level of abstinence education that actually works. From my second linked article:
The most successful abstinence programs were those that emphasized the risk of pre-marital sexual activity. They showed how abstinence fully protects a young person from STD’s, teen pregnancy and emotional trauma. They underlined the importance of self-control and responsibility and gave students the positive goal of a stable and committed marriage towards which to work in future. At the same time, however, researchers also found that it was crucial to re-educate adolescents about abstinence each successive year.
Related links: Expert pushes for better sex education

“Comprehensive” Sex Education is Ineffective: Abstinence Works, Major National Study Shows

6 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

I think parents have to get in there and broach these topics _before_ the school does. Our kids see so much sex and sexuality from the time they are involved in media, tv, the internet, video games, they all carry images about our sexuality. I also think parents need to be honest. So for example our kids started asking each other if they wanted a "Woody" because they had seen the ad for the burbon and cola drink. We had to be blunt and explain the context of the ad and why it was in appropriate to discuss giving 'woodies'. Their response was "Ooooo, yucky!" and I haven't heard the word since.

Because of our sex drenched culture we can't avoid the topic with our kids, even young ones. I can't allow my kids to watch C4 because of the sexually explicit nature of many music videos and the way they portray women. Even before the watershed there are ads (often for other tv programs) that involve sex. So we basically use this as a teaching tool, ie. sex should be for marriage.

We avoid most tv and stick to TVNZ 6 (no ads) a lot of the time. But the odd one still gets through. But it's even in the supermarket. There is a brand of softdrink called Illicit. The lemon and gold flavor says on its packaging that snogging your mate's wife is a good idea. This led to a discussion that this was adultery and that's against the Ten Commandments and we were not going to buy Illicit products.

Check out their website, which is clearly sexual in nature.

We can not wait for schools to teach our children abou sex and a healthy sexuality. It's our responsibility as parents and we need to get in their and do it early because society is sending messages all the time, whether we like it or not.

Ozy Mandias said...

Bang on Muerk. The reality is that so many parents leave sex ed up to schools and with teachers I would not let look after my cat let alone teach my kids their ideas of sexuality.

I also struggle with the 1/3 estimate. Although the real figure is high FP have an interest in the figure being high as they are government funded.

However, the reality is that our sex education is poor. Because our curriculum is so loose it means topics like these are left to the values of the person in charge of that department.

Daniel said...

You're a pack of nutters. The illicit can blurb is clearly a joke. And no one endorses year 9 and 10 children having sex. As far as a third of them? That's complete bullshit. I'd like to see where that statistic came from.

Lucia Maria said...


Try reading the post a little slower next time. It doesn't say a third of 9 & 10 year olds are having sex, it says a third of Year 9 and 10 are having sex. Note the use of the word, "Year", which indicates a grade level at school.

My son just started college this year (Year 9) and the first question most kids asked each other was, "Are you gay or straight?"

Lucia Maria said...

Also, why the hidden profile?

Ozy Mandias said...

Here is the stats for you - The Youth 2007 report, found the following

35% of female students and 38% of male students reported having had sexual intercourse.

Around 10% of 13 year olds reported being sexually active and around 35% of 17 year olds are sexually active.

Around 15% of sexually active teenagers don’t use contraception regularly.

Around 94% of males and 91% of females are exclusively attracted to the opposite sex.

The report concludes that the Sexual Health Behavious of teenagers has not changed since the 2001 study.

view the study at

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