Right time to talk birds and bees
Bay of Plenty Times 8 Oct 2012
Conceiving from bathing in a hot pool and not getting pregnant the first time you have sex are among the myths dispelled by the Bay’s sex education teachers. The news comes as it is reported that Australian school children as young as 11 will be taught to “recognise sexual feelings”. Across the ditch, a new national physical education curriculum means sexuality will be explored in Years 7 and 8 but education experts here say setting sex education age limits is a complex issue.
Irene Lewis, who teaches sexuality education as part of physical education and health at Otumoetai College, said the debate had evolved over the years. “There’s been huge changes in the 34 years I’ve been teaching the subject,” said the teacher who is originally from the UK but has been at Otumoetai for 10 years. “In the UK, it used to be very much, ‘these are the facts’, ‘this is what happens’, now ‘don’t do it’. That was the message, full-stop. These days, it’s vastly different and to my mind much more healthy. “You’re teaching it through the fact that young people are going to have relationships and that’s a much better standpoint in my view.”
However, Family First NZ’s national director Bob McCoskrie said sex education should be up to parents alone and not schools. “Our view is that parents determine that (the age) – not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach used by schools. Girls mature earlier than boys, and there can be differences among boys as to the timing of puberty. It can be embarrassing and inappropriate to discuss this material in co-ed classes. It also ignores the values and morals that families want presented to their children. “Children deserve the facts of life – from their parents. We should be resourcing parents to do this important task.”