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Students’ Perspectives on the Timing of Key Learning Topics within Sexuality Education in Australia

Students’ Perspectives on the Timing of Key Learning Topics within Sexuality Education in Australia

Identifying appropriate curriculum content in sexuality education is heavily reliant on a number of factors within and beyond the school environment. Despite national and international sexuality education guidance, curriculum in this area tends to be inconsistently delivered in Australia, particularly in relation to the timing of topics. Young people have an important role in informing the timing of content.

This research investigated the perspectives of 12 to 15 year old secondary school students (n = 100) regarding their sexuality education learning experiences and preferences. A mixed-method approach (quantitative surveys and focus groups) was used to capture the perspectives of these participants in two government schools within a low socioeconomic area of regional Victoria (Australia).

Over 50% of students identified that each of the 25 provided topics should be introduced by the end of primary school, which is often much earlier than mandated within the curriculum. The reasons reported from young people themselves emerged within four key themes:
(1) sexuality education as potentially protective;
(2) the role of sexuality education in preparing students for secondary school;
(3) that topic timing should match the growth, development and maturity of students and
(4) the importance of progressing topics beyond puberty.

Students in this research challenge educators to reassess the timing of sexuality education content delivered in many classrooms in Australia. Best practice in the delivery of sexuality education, is dependent on the ability to consult with young people and understand how to best meet their needs and interests, within the context of their lives.

Areas of Interest / Categories: Child and Adolescent Health, Sex Education, WAS 2013

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