Sexuality and Respectful Relationships Education
Primary and Secondary Schools 2019
Why teach sexuality education in primary school?
- Sexuality education helps children manage the physical and emotional changes of puberty.
- The process of puberty can start as young as eight among some children. All children need to know about puberty before it happens.
- Research in Australia as well as internationally outlines that the majority of parents want sexuality education in schools. (See Catching on Early AUSVELS for sources.)
- Children whose parents discuss values and attitudes towards sexuality and who receive good sexuality education at school are more likely to delay first sexual intercourse to a later age and less likely to have an unintended pregnancy or a sexually transmissible infection.
- Comprehensive sexuality education teaches children accurate, age appropriate information about their bodies and relationships. In an era where children can easily access inappropriate information about sexual relationships via the internet and pornography, learning about healthy ways of relating helps children to expect positive, respectful relationships as they grow older.
- By the age of eight, children will display a sense of the society’s expectations about gender. A safe space and time to question strict gender rules can help broaden their options and make it easier for the children who don’t fit the stereotypes.
- Sexuality education can be protective against sexual abuse. Many important messages and skills that contribute to children’s safety are part of a comprehensive sexuality program. They include:
- Teaching children about the proper names of their body parts
- Giving children permission to talk and ask questions about sexual body parts
- Explaining the qualities of respectful relationships and appropriate sexual relationships
- Identifying a support network of teachers and parents to whom they could turn
- Understanding personal safety; such as safety for our bodies and how to keep ourselves safe
- Sexuality education brings diverse families to the classroom. Discussing the variety of family structures found within our society helps students to understand and accept differences between families.
- Talking about sexuality when children are young lays the foundation for open discussions in the future between young people and adults.
- It is a focus area of the Personal, Social and Community Health strand of the Health and PE curriculum. This area is expected to be addressed during each band of learning from Foundation all the way to Level 10.
Victorian Department of Education and Training’s resource Catching on Early AUSVELS, pages 14-16.
Global: International Technical Guidance on Sexuality education 2018 Document
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