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Disrupting childhood? Breaking the cycle of silence around sexuality education in primary schools. May 3, 2016

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education, Inclusive Education, Primary Education.
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By Son Truong

Introduction

While the Australian Curriculum in Health and Physical Education (HPE) made significant strides towards acknowledging the importance of developing health literacy with young people, its broad stance on sexuality education, particularly in the primary school curriculum, is a missed opportunity to ensure primary school children gain consistent, fully inclusive, and factual knowledge about not only the physical, but also the mental, emotional, and social dimensions of human sexuality.

Background

Last year, I was invited to speak on a panel at the 1st National Conference of the Australian Forum on Sexuality, Education and Health. The panel members were asked to reflect, and offer a provocation, on the topic of Communities, parents and sexual health – whose rights, which prompted me to consider the notion of mandatory sexuality education in schools. Several months later, with new headlines emerging, including Respectful relationships curriculum aims to change a generation (Jennings, 2016), Safe Schools program: federal government unveils changes (Martin, 2016), Axing of sex education program YEAH part of ‘ideological agenda’, experts claim (Stark, 2016) the focus of the conference and panel seem as timely as ever.

Sexuality Education Curriculum in Primary School Teacher Education

Originally from Canada, I started working at Western Sydney University in 2012 with the responsibility of teaching the HPE curriculum to pre-service primary school teachers. My arrival occurred at a particularly interesting crossroads in teacher education, especially as the national HPE Curriculum was in the process of being shaped and drafted. It was not long after I began preparing and contextualising my lecture and tutorial content that I came across the topic of sexuality education in the headlines across a variety of news sources.

Walsh (2012) explains that while the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s (ACARA) original draft guidelines introduced sex education in Years 3 and 4, under pressure from parent groups it later pushed back some of this content until Years 5 and 6. A central argument in Walsh’s article is that “We have confused children learning about sex in an appropriate educational context with the sexualisation of children” (para. 5).

I was curious to see how students, as future teachers, would respond to Walsh’s (2012) article, and more broadly the responsibility for teaching topics such as Growth and Development, Interpersonal Relationships, and Sexuality Education in the primary school curriculum. The resulting discussion was both encouraging, as well as a call to action in my role as a HPE teacher educator to better communicate the meaning and importance of teaching sexuality education.

Walsh (2012) states, “There is complete agreement in the literature that healthy sexual development is dependent on two-way communication between adults and children, and this needs to begin early” (para. 6). However, despite what appeared to be convincing evidence that human development and puberty may begin for children before they enter Grades 5 and 6, and therefore, an understanding of puberty needs to be addressed prior to these grades, there were still some anxieties and a sense of hesitancy amongst some students.

There was certainly a range of views shared amongst the class, and many students were in agreement that sexuality education needs to begin early. However, there were also a number of statements that I heard with some regularity, suggesting children are too innocent to learn about this or teaching about sex leads to sexual activity. As a teacher educator, these viewpoints signalled not only students’ apprehension towards teaching this content, but also particular prevailing views of childhood and sexuality education that may need to be disrupted.

Reflecting on Challenges

I think some of the challenges we are facing to ensure that quality sexuality education is provided systemically and systematically across the primary school curriculum are reflected in a protest sign I saw published in a news article entitled Quebec to introduce sex ed pilot project with ‘no exemptions’ (Richer, 2015).

“Math, not Masturbation. Science, not Sex.”

The province of Québec, Canada recently introduced a pilot project with 19 schools to deliver mandatory sexuality education from K – 12, with the intent to introduce the curriculum across the province in 2017. The key word here is mandatory, which means that in the upgraded curriculum, parents will not have the option of withdrawing their children from class while this content is being taught.

My reading of this protest sign revealed three concerns that are equal to those I attempt to address with my students.

Firstly, the sign reduces comprehensive sexuality education to sex and masturbation. It seems that far too often, sexuality education becomes contested and controversial as a result of fear discourses and slogans that misrepresent its content and aims.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2009), “The primary goal of sexuality education is that children and young people become equipped with the knowledge, skills and values to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships…” (p. 10). I add further emphasis here on both the personal and social aspects of health and wellbeing, and the importance of respectful relationships education, which focuses on building healthy relationships, including supporting sexual and gender diversities.

Secondly, although perhaps just witty alliteration, the juxtaposition of math not masturbation, and science not sex, brings to mind a broader concern that HPE in general, and sexuality education in particular, are at-risk of being pushed to the margins in the primary school curriculum. The issue is further complicated with concerns of an over-crowded primary school curriculum, where time spent in physical education may be limited. For example, an audit undertaken by the Auditor-General (Audit Office of NSW) in 2012 revealed that approximately 30% of NSW government schools are not meeting minimum hours for physical education. It is difficult to know with any certainty, and without further research, the extent to which time is spent focused on other content areas in the HPE curriculum; however, it is clear that support is required at all levels, including in the curriculum as well as in teacher training programs, to strengthen the profile and provision of HPE.

Research suggests there is limited knowledge about the provision of sexuality education in Australian teacher education programs, and that “primary school teachers are rarely prepared with the knowledge, skills and understandings to confidently and competently address sexuality education” (Leahy, Horne & Harrison 2004; Harrison & Ollis 2011, as cited in Ollis, Harrison & Maharaj, 2013, p. 1).

Central to my provocation in this post is that the broad content statements and descriptions in the HPE Curriculum, particularly in relation to sexuality education, results in ambiguity regarding the specific subject matter that should be addressed. Relatedly, while referring to the Board of Studies NSW (2007) PDHPE syllabus documents, Ullman and Ferfolja (2015) argue:

Teachers are advised that the selection of specific PDHPE programme content occurs at the school level and reminded that, ‘The syllabus is designed to give all schools the flexibility to treat sensitive and controversial issues in a manner reflective of their own ethos’ (p. 153).

Sexuality education is largely viewed as specific to HPE, which is a subject area that is arguably marginalised in the primary school curriculum, as well as dominated by other prominent topics, such as sport, physical activity, nutrition, and drug education. Therefore, there needs to be clear guidelines and expectations on its implementation and related learning outcomes, particularly as states develop their HPE syllabus and curriculum documents.

And Thirdly, the protest sign suggests that sex and masturbation are inappropriate content to discuss with students. This view reflects the dominant discourses of particular constructed notions of childhood innocence rather than an approach oriented towards educational rights and needs.

Curiously, there is a hesitancy to accept and adopt a needs-led approach for sexuality education. While countries such as Holland, Sweden, and Finland already have compulsory sexuality education, the debate continues for others, such as Canada, the United States, the UK, New Zealand, and Australia (see Ricci, 2015).

The current need is reflected by observing mainstream media and news outlets, Facebook and Twitter feeds, and content readily available on the internet in general. The broader social media context often means that information and misinformation are readily available to young people. My aim in referring to this access to mis/information is not an attempt to engage with crisis discourses – to raise sentiments of fear for the loss of childhood innocence because that term is a social construct to begin with. Rather, it is a call to disrupt a particular view of childhood in order to take into consideration the contemporary landscapes and diversities of being a child.

Continuing the Dialogue

To break the cycle of silence around sexuality education in primary schools, there is not room for ambiguity in the curriculum. While recognising that sexuality education is the responsibility of the whole community, schools have a central role to play in ensuring all students have access to this important content. As a teacher educator, I acknowledge the challenges, and specifically time constraints, in covering all HPE content within a generalist primary school teacher education course, which further underscores the need to continually enhance my teaching, as well as the need for new opportunities for professional development to ensure teachers feel confidence and competence in teaching this content. Concurrently, dialogue needs to continue at all levels to support a fully inclusive and necessarily diverse sexuality education that does not shy away from reflecting the lives of all children and families today.

References

Audit Office of New South Wales (2012). Physical Activity in Government Primary Schools: Department of Education and Communities. Sydney: Audit Office of New South Wales. Retrieved from http://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/246/01_PAB_Physical_Activity_Full_Report.pdf.aspx?Embed=Y

Board of Studies, New South Wales. (2007). Personal development, health and physical education, K-6 Syllabus. Retrieved from http://k6.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/go/personal-development-health-and-physical-education-pdhpe

Jennings, J. (2016). Respectful relationships curriculum aims to change a generation. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/respectful-relationships-curriculum-aims-to-change-a-generation-20160408-go1iwl.html

Leahy, D., Horne, R., & Harrison, L. (2004). Bass Coast Sexuality Education Project: Needs Analysis and Professional Development Evaluation Report. Retrieved from https://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/teachlearn/student/basscoastfinalreport.pdf

Martin, S. (2016). Safe Schools program: federal government unveils changes. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/safe-schools-program-federal-government-unveils-changes/news-story/ce2d4751b2068f6b3ecedede317954fd

Ollis, D., Harrison, L., & Maharaj, C. (2013). Sexuality education matters: Preparing pre-service teachers to teach sexuality education. Retrieved from http://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/252661/sexuality-education-matters-april-2013-online.pdf

Ricci, C. (2015). British MPs demand mandatory and modern sex education. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/british-mps-demand-mandatory-and-modern-sex-education-20150223-13mi4j.html

Richer, J. Quebec to introduce sex ed pilot project with ‘no exemptions’. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-to-introduce-sex-ed-pilot-project-with-no-exemptions-1.3209189

Stark, J. (2016). Axing of sex education program YEAH part of ‘ideological agenda’, experts claim. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/national/axing-of-sex-education-program-yeah-part-of-ideological-agenda-experts-claim-20160422-gocjxo.html

Ullman, J., & Ferfolja, T. (2015). Bureaucratic constructions of sexual diversity: ‘sensitive’, ‘controversial’ and silencing. Teaching Education, 26(2), 145-159.

UNESCO (2009). International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers and health educators. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001832/183281e.pdf

Walsh, J. (2012). Worried about the sexualisation of children? Teach sex ed earlier. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/worried-about-the-sexualisation-of-children-teach-sex-ed-earlier-10311

 

 

Dr Son Truong is a Lecturer in Health and Physical Education (HPE) in the School of Education, and a member of the Centre for Educational Research at Western Sydney University, Australia. The following is based on a presentation he gave as part of a panel at the recent Australian Forum on Sexuality Education and Health (AFSEH) Conference.

Comments»

1. Anita Woutersen - August 23, 2016

The first argument that the author makes is that sexual education is misunderstood because it is often confused with the sexualisation of children (Truong, 2016). Sexual education is also confused with the physical aspect, however, what people sometimes do not realise is that it also includes the “mental, emotional and social aspects of human sexuality”(Truong, 2016). This is why I think it’s important that when I start teaching the content of sexual education I would clearly outline to the students what sexual education is, and that it not solely based on physical sexuality. Also, over a good amount of lessons I would explore with the students the mental, emotional and social aspects of sexuality.Also, if there were any concerns of parents then I would invite them to watch my lessons.

The author also made the argument that sexual education may be viewed as less important in the primary school curriculum. To help teach the content of sexual education in relation to this issue, I would collaborate with other teachers to create programs that address the content. I would also participate in my own research to find interesting ways to engage students in the learning of sexual education to make their learning more effective.

The last argument that the author makes is that sexual education content can be inappropriate to discuss with students. To address this issue, I think that it would be important to have a formal meeting with parents about any concerns they would have about teaching sexual education and make sure that I emphasise the importance of giving students the knowledge and skills so that students can make good choices. I would also have class discussions with the students and make sure that they relate to the students, so that students can understand the importance of sexual education and making good choices that reflect good values and positive relationships. I would also look up online strategies that can help teach the content in an appropriate manner.

2. Simone Dadich - August 24, 2016

I believe that sexual education is not a subject that should be dismissed due to controversial factors or age appropriate factors. Society constructs the term sexuality in a way that evokes discomfort and awkwardness with parents, teachers and most importantly students.
However, like Son (2016) addresses in his argument, sexuality does not solely refer to ‘sexual behaviour’, it refers to much more such as the understandings of gender, body education and all vitally important things students need to be taught from early stages.
Disregarding sexuality education is a cause for concern as students are growing up with minimal to no knowledge on sexuality, which could have substantial impacts upon them and the way they view and construct the world around them.

3. Alexandra - August 24, 2016

In order to teach students about sexuality at a young age, teachers need approval from the students parents, just incase they don’t want their children to know at that age or want to teach their children first. In a way younger student’s need to know because some students mature at a younger age than others.

4. Emma Dufty - August 24, 2016

Son (2016) makes strong arguments that recognise the importance of teaching sexual education to Primary aged children. After reading this piece, I believe that the first step towards providing proper education to children, is educating parents. It is evidence that parents in many countries, such as Australia, are not understanding the content that needs to be taught. It seems that parents are under the misconception that students are going to be taught how to be sexually active, rather than about the truths about themselves and experiences they will encounter. I believe that sexual education should be introduced to students at a young age so that they don’t turn to the internet and ‘self-diagnose,’ but rather, can be taught the facts and feel comfortable to talk to their parents or teachers about any concerns they hold.
This is a controversial issues as parents are trying to protect their children and keep them ‘innocent,’ but it is my belief that if children are better educated, they will make better decisions.

sally bierman - September 13, 2016

yes i believe this is a really valid point,I feel the impression parents/guardians perceive possibly warrants an evaluation. Howvever sexuality education that empahsis health education, identity and boundaries are important for the safety and thriving of our students. re-education parents of the intensions and curriculum would surely influence their hesitations

5. Jeremy Thomas - August 24, 2016

This article, along with the comments made by Jenny Walsh (2012), have helped me gain a better understanding of the importance of educating primary students about sexuality early on. This need arises from the fact that students have access to a lot of misinformation online and that students are entering into puberty at earlier ages.
Furthermore it is important to acknowledge that many people confuse children learning about sex in an appropriate educational context with the sexualisation of children. There is a need for the general public to better understand that the primary goal of sexuality education is to equip children and young people with the knowledge, skills and values to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships.
Finally, sexuality education appears to take a backseat in being apart of HPE, which is marginalised in the primary school curriculum as well as dominated by other prominent topics, such as sport, nutrition and drug education. I believe there needs to be more priority placed on teaching sexuality to students in stage 2 and 3 as well as better resources and guidelines for how teachers can implement meaningful sexuality education in the classroom.

6. Stefan K - August 24, 2016

The quote, “We have confused children learning about sex in an appropriate educational context with the sexualisation of children” (Troung, 2016) is a perfect representation of what I think about the primary HPE curriculum in terms of sexuality education. I believe that children need to be taught the importance of sexuality education as the skills associated with understanding sexuality both physically and mentally are critical to the young people growing up.

To me, major issues arise from the notion that sexuality is seen as bad or taboo and that children in today’s contemporary society are too innocent to be ‘exposed’ to such information. Socially constructed viewpoints surrounding the topic of sexuality education is something that I genuinely believe comes partially from the older generations such as parents who are afraid of the implications of exposing their child to ‘sex’. I do not want to completely ‘blame’ the parents, as the media also plays a major role in the ‘sexualisation of children’, thus over time making parents fear and oppose the teaching of sexuality within primary classrooms. The education received by the older generations could also have impacted the views of society due to them being taught different ideals and notions of sexuality when they were in school. Sexuality is something that needs to be explored and managed in favour of the young people since they are finding it harder to communicate sexual boundaries. The fact that various educational programs are working in an effort to oppose and stop young people from being sexual, rather than helping them towards a healthier understanding of sexuality where they can make their own decisions based on the knowledge received at school is something that needs to be consistently addressed in order to promote a healthy understanding on the topic of sexuality education (Walsh, 2012).

To conclude there are definitely several factors that affect how sexuality education is perceived in today’s society, but it is vital to make sure that the necessary information regarding sexuality is brought up in primary school classrooms, as long as it is beneficial to the young people. Of course parents are welcome to have an opinion on what they believe in, but it is critical for us as educators to stress the importance of the younger generations needing to be educated on the topic, especially since the increase in sexuality in younger people at a younger age.

7. Jess Everett - August 24, 2016

Sexuality and sexual education is something that i feel should not be left out of primary school education. From my own personal experience of PE in primary school, we never addressed sexuality, not once. It wasn’t until i got to high school that these topics were addressed. I feel that in todays society, sexuality is linked automatically to sex and sexual activity for the reason of that is what is in the word. People see sexuality and automatically read SEXuality (and lets be honest, how did we get on this earth anyway). They don’t understand its deeper meanings, and therefore feel it needs to be left out, which leaves students missing out on valuable information. Truong (2016) says that people feel that they need to protect the innocence of children by hiding them away from these topics. However, what will happen to them at an older age when they haven’t been equipped with this information and end up making poor decisions when it comes to their sexual and social relationships, does their wellbeing not matter once they reach a certain age?

As mentioned before about relationships, Truong (2016) goes into detail, saying that sexuality covers not only making positive choices within sexual health, it also covers the importance of social relationships and building supportive relationships for sexual and gender diversity. All over the media today people are saying that boys have no respect for girls, girls have no respect for boys, nobody has respect for anybody etc, and that is probably, most likely because these topics are not being covered at a young age and children do not understand the importance of these relationships and how we make healthy and positive choices in these instances. As a society, we can’t cry out that there is a problem, whilst simultaneously demanding we don’t teach the content to students that will help combat these issues.

As future educators, we need to take steps diminish the stigma around sexuality, and educate others on what it actually means. Children grow up with an awkward notion around sexuality because it is most likely their parents don’t want to address it, and in the classroom it is fighting a losing battle against other subjects such as English and Maths. Also addressing a point made by Truong (2016), saying how in Canada, parents can’t pull their children out of class when being educated on sexuality. What is that teaching students when they are told they aren’t allowed to go to a lesson on sexuality? what is that student thinking when a parent or guardian says that topic is inappropriate for them? The only way to begin taking these steps to erase this thought process around sexuality is to pull up our socks and teach it. We need to make sure we are being clear and succinct with students in our explanations about sexuality, and the other aspects around it as well. (e.g. making positive choices for not just sexual relationships but also social relationships) We need to make sure that we are doing our research, that we are following the curriculum clearly with our planning and that we adapt lessons to suit the age group we are addressing.

As teachers, we are educating students to be functioning members of society, and whilst in that society they will be able to read, write and do fantastic calculations, how will they understand how to make healthy choices when they are being taught that sexuality is a taboo subject that no one wants to address. Anyone who was in the HPE lecture this morning with guest lecturer Ian will know that as teachers we need to throw away our egos and insecurities. This is probably the most important step we need to take to make sure we teach this content effectively and comprehensively. Whilst we may have gone through school thinking it was an awkward topic, if we can step into a classroom and dance around doing some awkward singing to help motivate students for certain lessons, we can put ourselves out there again and teach this important information to students.

It is a part of their life and they have the right to learn about it, just like we as teachers have the right to teach it. By integrating sexuality back into our HPE teaching, we have the ability to shape our students outlook on life, and hopefully shape a more positive future for society. 🙂 🙂

8. Rachel Chaffer - August 24, 2016

I strongly believe that sexual education is a important subject that should be introduced to students during their primary years. It is not a matter of teaching them learning only about sexual intercourse, but of health, the human body, relationships, values, decision making and communication. Teaching children the content of HPE is significant and beneficial to their education and wellbeing. It encourages students to understand how their body works and the emotions they may feel. However, as Son (2016) suggests there are challenges that influence the quality of sexual education in primary schools. These challenges are often related to the relationship between adults and children. Parents have misconceptions about the topic of sexual education and hold back teaching their children and teachers lack the confidence and contextual knowledge to provide quality teaching. These issues can easily be addressed by obtaining a deeper understanding of the context and how important HPE is in primary education.

9. AH - August 24, 2016

It’s horrifying to think that there needs to be this kind of debate at all. The tone of this article (and many others) really brings together the position that we find ourselves in – that we are allowing misinformation, politics and ignorance (intentional and/or unintentional) to guide the direction of the development of children. The fact that Québec is mandating sexuality education without exemption demonstrates that knowledge of the subject matter is vital for the development of children – and its importance outweighs the imposition the programme will place upon parents’/carers’/organisations’ rights to object. It also means that schools will have an obligation to make the time available to teach the content – and not allowing it to be sidelined in favour of more ‘highly-prized’ content, further reinforcing the importance of the subject matter.

Ultimately, in this debate, it is children that suffer. Every child has the right to an education, and every person has the right to their own body – so why should children be denied the right to know about their bodies? When looking at statistics, such as those below, the question should be asked – how much of this could be avoided by educating children about some of the things that they may encounter, either in themselves, or others around them, in an honest, evidence-based, and open manner?

• More than a third of deaths of 15-19 year old males in Australia in 2014 were a result of suicide (ABS, 2016)
• 80% of homophobic bullying occurs in schools (AHRC, 2014)
• 11% of Australians have diverse sexual and gender orientations and identities (AHRC, 2014)
• 1.7% of children born in Australia are estimated to be intersex (AHRC, 2014)
• GLBT people are 300% more likely to experience depression than the rest of the population (AHRC, 2014)
• In the 12 months to March 2016, 263 sexual offenses were carried out by juveniles in NSW (NSW BOCSAR, 2016)
• In 2014 in Australia, over 1000 children were born to mothers who were 16 years old and under (ABS, 2015) – which is still within the mandatory schooling age in most Australian jurisdictions.

Understanding of sexuality takes time to develop – just look at all of the adults weighing in on this debate who are still trying to come to terms with the diverse ideas of sexuality – so if we give students the opportunity to begin developing these understandings earlier, maybe we can empower them to respond to situations in future as society expects them to, instead of leaving it until the last minute, hoping for the best and holding them accountable for poor decisions.

In my opinion, decisive action needs to be taken where emotionally-charged policy decisions are replaced by evidence-based policy decisions. The needs of children, and factual information need to be prioritised, in policy and practice. Teachers (and their schools) should be assisted and supported to move into a space where they feel comfortable teaching this content, without the fear of backlash or judgement, and this may involve a significant investment in developing primary (and secondary) teachers’ own understandings of sexuality. Most importantly though is open communication about what is being taught so that any fears or concerns about sexualisation of children or promotion of agendas, etc., can be minimised, in addition to providing a guide for parents/carers to further develop their children’s understanding of the subject (and perhaps, even their own).

Sources for statistics:
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Births, Australia, 2014 (Statistical Report No. 3301.0). Canberra, Australia. Retrieved from http://abs.gov.au
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016). Causes of Death, Australia, 2014 (Statistical Report No. 3303.0). Canberra, Australia. Retrieved from http://abs.gov.au
Australian Human Rights Commission. (2015, February 25). Face the facts: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People. Retrieved 24 August 2016, from https://www.humanrights.gov.au/face-facts-lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-and-intersex-people
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. (2016). Crime Maps. Retrieved 24 August 2016, from http://crimetool.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/bocsar/

10. Mahrufa - August 24, 2016

As a mother of two children, I feel that sexuality and sexual education should be taught at school. It is better to learn from adults, rather than being misguided by their peers. Sexual education does not refer to sexual behavior only, rather it fosters students’ knowledge on building healthy relationships, and understanding gender and sexual diversities. Therefore, it is important for children to have better understanding about mental, emotional and social aspects of human sexuality at the young age (Son, 2016). However, I would prefer to take consent from parents before teaching their children about sexual education.

11. Alena. A - August 26, 2016

There are a number of factors to consider when teaching sexuality education in the primary classroom. The author makes many relevant and valuable arguments regarding the importance and lack of knowledge and understanding surrounding sexuality education. A point raised, in agreeing to Walsh’s (2012) point about this type of education needing to be introduced at and early stage in education, is one of my main concerns as a future teacher. Many parents and also teachers feel the topic and related subject matter is ‘not appropriate’ for younger students and adds more pressure to the teacher and the responsibility of teaching such content. However as many, and myself believe, this topic is should not be one that evokes discomfort nor be one that is shied away from due to social construction of sexual education having ‘inappropriate’ or ‘derogatory’ subject matter. It is the responsibility of the teacher, other staff and school to educate students about ‘inclusive and necessarily diverse sexuality education that does not shy away from reflecting the lives of all children and families today.” (Truong, 2016).

Looking to the future, I feel as though as a teacher, I need to educate myself a lot more about the topics involved in effectively teaching sexuality education, as this is a subject matter that is incredibly important to students’ social, emotional, physical and mental development. Further research through means of collaborating with other new teachers to discuss ways of teaching, meeting with parents to discuss concerns, and also researching by using the Internet and focusing on articles. Through these means of research, and using the curriculum, in turn would hope to broaden students, parents and the community’s understanding and overall acceptance of sexual education in schools.

12. Elly - August 28, 2016

Both authors present a valid argument and teachers and schools do have an important role in teaching children about sexuality and sexual education; this needs to begin in the primary years and not left too late. Unfortunately, not all children have parents or carers at home that are able or willing to teach this important information. With children going through puberty younger, they need to be knowledgeable about the changes to their bodies and emotions prior to experiencing it. The concern about children becoming over sexualised is another reason to teach this – with the right information they are able to make informed decisions and are less likely to be exploited.

13. jessshare - August 29, 2016

After reading this article it only emphasises my desire to ensure primary school students have the knowledge and understanding of ‘sexual behaviours and sexuality’. These are crucial aspects of a developing individual regardless of age, at some point in time a child will go through life changes physically and mentally. It is pivitol through these changes that they understand and feel comfortable within their own bodies and at the same time are also able to discuss with other individuals whether that be family members, friends or someone else who can give advice.
As Truong (2016) outlines, the parents play a major role in this section of education. They look at sexual education as ‘masturbation and sex’ instead of indivdual changes physically and mentally in which young minds begin to be curious about ofcourse as to be expected as they move through these changes themselves. Parent education would be a first step in ensuring children are then provided with adequate physical health and fitness education in schools. As a future teacher I would implement a parent teacher discussion night on the topic to involve and prepare the parents to assist in their child’s education and personal growth journey.

14. Jodi Swan - August 31, 2016

This article, along with Walsh’s article (2012) have really instilled that sexuality education in the younger years is vital. Students as young as 9 years old are going through puberty and if they are not taught about the changes they are experiencing, we are not doing our job as teachers. We are there to education these children academically but also to provide real life, everyday skills. One of those skills is to develop their sense of self and ensure they realise they have options in relation to their sexual desires, developmental changes and as Walsh discusses their personal values.

I believe incorporating a well rounded sexual education program will have a greatly assist children as they head into adolescence. Thoroughly researching age-appropriate content and resources as well as what they truely need to know is a great start for an effective program. I also believe that explicitly explaining to parents what will be taught in this program will help hesitate parents.

15. Jodi Swan - August 31, 2016

I believe that sexual education for the earlier years is vital for their overall development. Children need to understand why their body is changing, why they are feeling differently and that they are able to make decisions based on their personal values in regards to sexual behaviour. Considering that puberty can start as early as 9 years old, I believe this content needs to be taught from years 3/4.

As teachers, we need thoroughly research age appropriate content and resources to maximise effectiveness of well thought out programs.
If the teacher can explicitly explain what will be happening in the sessions, discuss their concerns and provide access to some resources this should assist in aiding parental discomfort.

It really is such an important content area for children and needs to be integrated well for maximum effectiveness as this could shape a soon to be adolescence knowledge of facts, boundaries and values.

16. Melissa Clampett - September 29, 2016

I understand parents being worried about their children no longer being innocent if they are introduced to sex education, but unfortunately, children today are on the internet, influenced by social medias, there is so much information out there they have access to. As Truong (2016) argues, this information or misinformation are teaching children negative aspects of sexuality. With this being said, sex education needs to be taught at an early age (before puberty) so they have the correct facts about sexuality. Furthermore, Walsh (2012) points out if children are educated at an earlier age about sex, then unwanted pregnancies and sti’s are reduced. Knowledge is vital to provide students with the correct information, to make safe decisions and the right choices. It is important too, for teachers to be confident in teaching sex education, and be prepared with the facts so they can explain to parents the importance for their children to learn.

17. Akanksha Ghasti - October 4, 2016

I believe that recognising the importance of sexual education for the early years is significant for the overall development of children. After reading the blog I developed a storing understanding that it is essential for children to understand why their body is changing. Educating children in their early years will help students to feel comfortable to gain facts about their body development instead of relying on self-diagnose and internet that may provide false information. It is important as future teachers to learn from what aspects have been not working in the past. It is a known fact that in many countries parents are under misconceptions that if students engage in sexual education it will lead them to be sexually active. Therefore educating parents about the facts of sexual education may lead students to feel comfortable talking about their bodies not only to teachers but also to their parents. Therefore I strongly believe that it is important to integrate sexual education in the specified content area as it can lead to maximum effectiveness in shaping an the young youths knowledge, values and self-opinion.

18. Akanksha Ghasti - October 4, 2016

I believe that recognising the importance of sexual education for the early years is significant for the overall development of children. After reading the blog I developed a storing understanding that it is essential fot children to understand why their body is changing. Educating children in their early years will help students to feel comfortable to gain facts about their body development instead of relying on self-diagnose and internet that may provide false information. It is important as future teachers to learn from what aspects have been not working in the past. It is a known fact that in many countries parents are under misconceptions that if students engage in sexual education it will lead them to be sexually active. Therefore educating parents about the facts of sexual education may lead students to feel comfortable talking about their bodies not only to teachers but also to their parents. Therefore I strongly believe that it is important to integrate sexual education in the specified content area as it can lead to maximum effectiveness in shaping an adolescence’s knowledge, values and self-opinion.

19. Naoreen Monaem - October 4, 2016

After thoroughly reading and analysing the article I felt responsible as a future teacher to ensure that proper sexual education in regards to PDHPE is completed in schools. I felt alarmed that students within today’s society are increasingly participating in sexual activities at a younger age and are completing less than needed numbers of physical activity on a weekly basis. Despite these troubling matters, it Truong (2016) suggested that PDHPE curriculum was being overlooked by more “mainstream” topics such as English and mathematics.

If PDHPE curriculum especially sexual education is pushed to the side to much students (young children) will face many challenges. As a future educator I believe it is my responsibility to ensure that students have the right knowledge and up to date information on sexual education to ensure they are safe and equipped for the future. I beleive that recongnising sexual education as an integrat part of the school curriculm is necessay for engaged and informative future adults.

20. M - October 4, 2016

The article certainly highlights for me that as a society we are quite ignorant in understanding the content taught within a educational context, relating to sexual education. I think if it was better highlighted maybe that sexuality education aims to address and incorporate the physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of the child as a society we may be more receptive to its inclusion. With greater emphasis placed on the actual goals of sexual education i.e.equipping our children with knowledge , skills and values to make responsible choices may come greater acceptance. I am receptive to teaching sexuality education in a way that approaches the ‘whole person’ in all its entirety, but I am very mindful and believe parents do have a right to say when and what is taught in relation to their child as they ultimately know their children best and there may be many subjectivities and unique variables involved concerning each child that may need individual considerations.

EFenwick - October 4, 2016

This article has educated me in the area of teaching sexual education in primary schools. Education is the key to deal with sensitive issues like these. Prior to engaging in this topic, I felt uncomfortable about the idea of teaching sexual education, especially to students at a young age, out of fear or teaching it wrong. I am now aware of the importance of educating myself to ensure that students are receiving the education that they need and deserve to live healthy life styles. The idea of teaching this topic to a Kindergarten class scared me, but now i know the importance and understand that it can be done sensitively and age appropriately through resources such as picture books. I know believe that i am in a better place to teach this topic.

21. AWheeler - October 7, 2016

Although I fear I cannot add anything to what has already been previously mentioned, as a society we cannot continue to neglect the education of our children, and giving them access to content that will enhance their life choices and keep them safe seems like it doesn’t need debating. Unfortunately, due to the emotions that are attached and the cycle of shame that is associated with talking openly about sexuality education, many teachers are likely to use the excuse of the crowded curriculum to push sexuality education to the side. Thanks to educators like Dr. Truong for informing the future teachers of our children in an appropriate way, Australian societies attitudes will change and we will keep our children safe through being better informed.


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