School sex education too focused on mechanics, teenagers say

NZ Herald Mar 4, 2010

Sex education is too much about the mechanics of sex and not enough about relationships, the Families Commission says. An issues paper published by the commission yesterday says the health education curriculum is sound, officially covering relationship skills as well as sex. But it quotes high school students who say they learn little about relationships in practice. “The teacher gets a condom, gives a demonstration on how to use it, but they don’t talk about the emotional side,” one group of Wellington teens said. “They tell us you have sex, get pregnant or you get Aids and die. They don’t teach how to deal with a breakup.”

The report reveals new findings from a study of 2174 young people that even at 10 and 11, 26 per cent of boys say they have girlfriends and nearly 21 per cent of girls say they have boyfriends. Those figures rise to 32 per cent of both boys and girls by ages 14 and 15. Such early relationships are not necessarily sexual. But the Youth 2007 survey of 9000 high school students found 38 per cent of the boys and 35 per cent of girls said they had had sex.