Thursday, 2 August 2007

sometimes semantics are important

I have just been asked about Brook's view on abstinence education as a form of sex and relationships education. Abstinence education is not a form of sex and relationships education. Sex and relationships education involves the acquisition of accurate information, the development of emotional and social skills, and an exploration of values. A good curriculum brings together different legal, health cultural and religious perspectives to help children develop their own beliefs and values and to respect the right of others to have different beliefs.

Abstinence education, on the otherhand, is based on a particular set of moral beliefs that emphasises the importance of 'saving' sex until marriage and often offers inaccurate information about condoms and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections.

Sex and relationships education is about empowerment, about learning to make choices and about respect for diversity and from what I know about abstinence education, there is no evidence that it fits the bill on that front either.

Good quality sex and relationships education at home, at school and in the community, coupled with high quality young people friendly sexual health services has been shown to help young people delay sex and to use contraception and condoms when they do have sex. Abstinence education does not do that.

Sometimes semantics are simply semantic. Sometimes they are important. This is one of those times when it is right to be fussy.

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