Govt calls for overhaul of sex education

NZ Herald 7 March 2014
Respectful attitudes to sex would become a core part of sex education in schools under an overhaul recommended to the Government.

The revamp would aim to broaden the subject beyond a narrow focus on the physical mechanics of sex and reproduction.

The proposal has come from Parliament’s health select committee after a cross-party inquiry which found New Zealand’s high teenage-pregnancy rate was partly the result of inconsistent and sometimes non-existent sexual and reproductive lessons in schools.

Sex education is mandatory, but the 18-month inquiry found programmes were “fragmented and uneven”, parents were able to keep children out of them and classes often focused on physical aspects of sex.

The select committee recommended that the Government give all schools two years to create programmes that meet Ministry of Health standards.
‘Allow families to decide’
A former board of trustees member who resigned over “unacceptable” sex education classes at her school opposes recommendations that sex education programmes be mandatory for all schoolchildren.

Jo-Anne Sim resigned last month as a trustee of the Blaketown Primary School on the West Coast after a teacher taught what Ms Sim said were explicit lessons that were not appropriate for Year 7 and 8 pupils.

The classes included discussion about oral and anal sex, flavoured condoms, and pleasure points – despite parents having been told in writing beforehand that pupils would be taught only the basics.

Ms Sim said families should be given a choice when it came to educating their children about sexual health.

“Some parents like to be the people who give that advice in the family and guide the children at the right time,” she said.

But if sex education was to be taught in schools, it had to be by a health professional.