Introduction, Relationship and Sexuality Education
Despite all the materials and manuals available, education on relationships and sexuality appears to be mainly focused on biological, reproductive information along with prevention of unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies. Discussion on communication skills, diversity and social, religious, cultural or other societal aspects of sexuality is seldomly encouraged. Overall, the pleasures of dating and sex seem to be ignored. Furthermore, when developing and implementing a programme on sex education several professionals are confronted with one or several of the following obstacles:
1. A lack of information on new programmes and materials, books and videos relevant to sexuality education.
2. A lack of time to explore programmes and materials.
3. Insufficient budget to purchase new materials or to hire external professionals for consultancies on or training in sexuality education.
4. Insufficient knowledge of sexual development to determine the appropriate themes and topics to be taught to different age groups.
5. Insufficient knowledge of cultural and religious views on sexuality and related topics.
6. Insufficient knowledge or skills to create an atmosphere in which pupils can discuss sexuality in a (multi-ethnic or –religious) classroom, while respecting and safeguarding personal boundaries of both teacher and students.
The Dutch booklet “Zwijgen is zonde” (“Shameful silence”) -published by the Rutgers Nisso Group- and www.seksuelevorming.nl are developed to tackle these obstacles to delivering education on relationships and sexuality from a positive starting point. The website is a result of co-operation between the Rutgers Nisso Group and CPS, one of the largest educational consultancies in the Netherlands. The Dutch Ministries of Health & Welfare and Education sponsored this project. This symposium announces the establishment of the International Platform of Sexuality and Relationship Education for people interested in sex and relationship education to share their views. Educators and international bodies will be invited to endorse or sponsor this association.