Published: Thursday 17th March 2016 - Updated: Thursday 22nd March 2018
Summary: Survey reveals students want more from school-based programs including information about violence in relationships, gender issues, and sexual diversity.
School-based education programs have edged out friends and parents as secondary students' most used source of information about sexuality and relationships in a new survey by Deakin University and the University of South Australia.
The survey of 2,325 students aged between 13 – 16 years also revealed that students want more from school-based programs than just a biology lesson, with information about violence in relationships, gender issues, and sexual diversity high on the wish list.
The survey results form the basis of a new report,It's not all about sex: Young people's views about sexuality and relationship education, launched in Adelaide today by the Honourable Dr Susan Close MP, Minister for Education and Child Development.
The survey found that:
Dr Debbie Ollis, Senior Lecturer in Education at Deakin University and a co-author of the report, explained that the student perspective is often missing in the development and evaluation of sexuality and relationships education classes.
"To an extent, the old school methods of teaching sex education are still in place, with a focus on biological and physiological aspects, but students are telling us they want learning to extend beyond how to put a condom on a banana," Dr Ollis said.
"They want to know more about how to handle the emotional side of relationships – respect, love, starting a relationship, breaking up, sexual pleasure, and a host of other topics.
"The survey shows that students place a lot of trust in what is taught in school programs. This means that we have a responsibility to make sure programs are relevant and inclusive."
The survey revealed:
Dr Ollis said the survey responses showed students wanted more information about two key issues - gender diversity and violent relationships.
"The survey results prove that our politicians are completely out of date, particularly in the context of the ongoing national debate around the Safe Schools Coalition," Dr Ollis said.
"The survey also revealed that some students regard pornography as a trusted source of information. It paints a very clear picture that if we don't want kids to access pornography, we need school-based programs to be more explicit about what sexual relationships are all about."
The research has been undertaken as part of the Engaging Young People in Sexuality Education Research Project funded by the Australian Research Council and supported by the Departments of Education (DECD and DEECD) in South Australia and Victoria.
More information about the research is available at the Engaging Young People in Sexuality Education Research Project website.
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