10 April 2023Tags: comprehensive sexuality education, CPD, CSE, gender-based violence, harmful gender norms, Schools, sexual wellbeing, sexuality
Adolescents and young people, regardless of the country they live in, have the right to information about sexual and reproductive healthand this includes the right to comprehensive sexuality education. This is what Rutgers stands forduring the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) currently taking place in New York.
This year, the CPD focuses on “Population, Education and Sustainable Development.” To help young people develop their ability to make their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive life and enjoy safe relationships, sexuality education cannot be left aside.
Just like teaching childrenbasic daily tasks such as how to cross the road safely, relational and sexuality education gives them reliable knowledge and the necessary skills to (later) make responsible and healthy choices. It also teaches them to communicate their own wishes and boundaries and respect those of others.
“The health and well-being of young people improve whenevidence-based information on their bodies and sexuality is given in a positive way,and whenthey learn about bodily integrity and consent”, Rutgers advocate Evi Van den Dungen.
Young people still inadequately informed about sexuality
Studies conducted in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America have shown that most children and adolescents do not get information and education about sexuality, which results in young people being unaware of their body transformation during puberty and making them enter their sex life unprepared about the risks and how to handle them.
“Adolescent pregnancies, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child marriage can be prevented to a large extent if CSE is given from an early age,” Evi Van den Dungen.
The absence of adequate sexuality education and information is, however, not in line with young people’s desire and need to get information about a range of topics including gender, diversity, sexual pleasure or love among others. It is neither consistent with the national policy and curricula existing in many countries, that already guarantee some form of sexuality education.
“Even though SRHR legislation exists in many countries, proper implementation, budgeting and teacher training is key for CSE to be beneficial to young people,” Evi van den Dungen
The importance of a safe school environment
School has a major role to play in implementing CSE, but an essential condition remains that of creating a safe school environment free of bullying and harassment. This means having non-judgmental teachers capable of understanding the diversity of sexual identities, being aware of questions that can be answered publicly and helping them develop their critical mind with the support from parents.
“A whole-of-school approach, aiming at raising quality and standards across the entire school is the most effective and sustainable way to implement CSE, as information sticks better when schools work in partnership with other stakeholders in a positive way.”
“A whole-of-school approach to raise quality and standards across the school is the most effective and sustainable way to implement CSE”
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