SCHOOLS need to shift the emphasis of sex education classes away from “fear, disease and shame” to focus on love and intimacy, according to researchers at Deakin University.
Sex education should start at prep level instead of in years 5 and 6, but under a co-ordinated approach with parents, teachers and community health organisations, the study recommends.
The Deakin study found that 38 per cent of parents surveyed did not want sex education taught in schools but nearly 60 per cent wanted schools to give advice on how to discuss it with their kids. The kids themselves said they wanted to learn more about love.
Victorian government schools are required to provide sexuality classes as part of physical education and health lessons, although it is up to schools to design their own programs.
Deakin’s Burwood researcher, Dr Deb Ollis, said every student had a right to sex education and schools needed programs that were age-appropriate and culturally sensitive.
The findings of the study come after a sex ed program was introduced to 1700 prep to year 9 students at Geelong’s Northern Bay P-12 College. Students in grades 5 and 6 and their parents were asked what they would like to see taught in classes.
Education and parenting consultant Shona Bass said a whole-school approach was needed, but topics such as relationships were “the sorts of things which should come out naturally in the curriculum”.