Sex talk survey has dept worried

2011-09-27 00:00

THE Basic Education Department says it is worried about the findings of a recent Human Science Research Council study indicating that children aged between five and 17 years are not educated about their sexuality.

The report, which is available on the council’s website, states that the main sources of sexual education for pupils aged beween 12 and 17 are schools and peers.

Only 12% of parents or guardians discussed issues of sex and HIV and Aids with their children, the study said.

The council has called for an amendment to the basic education curriculum to incorporate accurate and comprehensive sexuality education by trained teachers.

The study recommends that parents and adults speak openly to their children about their sexuality from the young age of five.

Basic Education Department spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said they have noted the report, but believe the department’s sex education programmes in schools are sufficient.

“This is a worrying trend, but it is not something that can get sorted over night.

“That is why we take pupils through Life Orientation subjects and we have seasoned psychologists that come speak to pupils. As a department we are taking all the necessary precautions,’’ said Lesufi.

To collect data for the study, which was also conducted in Zambia, the council visited 2 087 households in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.

A survey of children between ages 12 and 17 found that 17% were not sure where to get a condom if they needed one. More than 52% acknow­ledged that their parents are unaware that they are sexually active.

The council’s Human and Social Development Research Programme deputy executive director, Arvin Bhana, contextualised what the survey means for South Africa.

“The study is not only about children and sex, but about children understanding their sexuality. Young people are having sex and we know that, but very few of them are using condoms. The problem is that the teachers … also come from the same cultural background as the pupils.

“They feel uncomfortable and not ready to talk about sex in the classroom, that is why children don’t understand.

“Parents should talk to their children on how they should behave in relationships, how to have safe sex from an early age and other issues that come with sexuality,” Bhana said.

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