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Teacher training and supports needed to ensure proper sex education for all second level students - McDonald

14 March, 2007

Speaking after it emerged that more than one in ten secondary schools have no sex education programme for first and second year students, Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald said, "Sex education must not be left up to parents alone." Ms McDonald said, "The fact that a significant minority of young teenagers are not being taught about sexuality, relationships and responsible sex could have serious negative affects later on in their lives" and went on to call for teachers to be given the necessary training and support to ensure that the Relationship and Sexual Education programme is successfully taught to all second level students.

The Dublin MEP said, "The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme was introduced in 1995. Over ten years on it is a shame that it has not been successfully rolled out in all secondary level schools. I accept that barriers such as an overloaded curriculum and teacher embarrassment may be preventing schools from delivering this programme, but teachers should be given the necessary training and support to ensure that the RSE programme is taught to all students. One suggestion would be for experts from outside to visit schools and inform students of the programme and deal with issues in an open manner.

"On average 16/17 year olds are now sexually active and must be equipped with the necessary knowledge on how to cope with relationships and practice safe sex. This topic should no longer be swept under the carpet as it was in the past. Education can be a powerful tool in assisting our young generation in facing; coping and dealing with such issues as sexually transmitted infections, crisis pregnancy and relationships. Sex education must not be left up to parents alone.

"As outlined in the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil, we believe the State has a duty to ensure the physical wellbeing of the people of Ireland. The rising increase in STIs and crisis pregnancies should be tackled with education and ensuring our young people are empowered, well equipped and supported in dealing with such issues."


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