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What Is Relationship & Sexuality Education

Relationship & sexuality education in schools provides students with opportunities to develop:

• knowledge, understanding, and skills relating to sexual development – physical, emotional, and social;

• knowledge, understanding, and skills to enhance their sexual and reproductive health, for example,

knowledge about the process of conception and the skills to make decisions that maintain and enhance

their sexual health;

• personal and interpersonal skills and related attitudes, including

– the skills needed to examine people’s attitudes, values, and beliefs and their rights and    responsibilities

– attitudes of respect for themselves and other people

– attitudes of care and concern for themselves and other people

– effective communication skills

– problem-solving and decision-making skills;

• understanding and skills to enhance relationships, for example, in relation to friendship, love, families, and parenting.

Why Teach Sexuality Education?

Why teach this? Healthy relationships are characterized by respect, trust and sharing. Their foundation is based on equality; with both partners contributing to the relationship in a balanced and mutually beneficial way.

As young people approach adolescence, they long for increased independence and their peer group becomes an increasingly significant part of their lives. Romantic relationships become a central focus as young people think about, talk about and become involved with others. Although in many cases these first relationships last only for a few weeks or months, they play a significant role in the lives of young people and are important in developing the capacity for long-term committed relationships in adulthood. The quality of these adolescent relationships can have a major impact on self-esteem and they help shape personal values and attitudes around love, intimacy and sexuality.

While many young people will have healthy, fulfilling relationships, many adolescents are at risk of entering into unhealthy, abusive relationships that pose a high risk to their future development. We can minimize this risk by promoting healthy relationships and providing a forum where young people can explore, discuss and develop the skills that will support healthy choices and positive relationships.

Young people who are sexually active and in a healthy relationship are much more likely to make health promoting decisions and engage in behaviours that minimize their risk of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy. They will communicate more effectively, have a greater sense of self worth and therefore a lower tolerance towards partner violence and be aware of their rights within relationships. (FPA 2008)

Frequently Asked Questions & Concerns

“Parents/caregivers know their children best and know when their child is ready to receive sensitive information. Because this is not possible in the classroom, schools should not be teaching this subject.”

The most important sexuality educators for children certainly are their parents/caregivers and families, but not all parents/caregivers do discuss sexuality issues with their children. Sexuality education programs in schools cater for these young people. Many schools also recognize that these programs benefit all students and may enhance communication between students and their parents/caregivers. We acknowledge that teachers of sexuality education must be as sensitive as possible to the individual needs of students and to the views of their families. This reinforces the need for you to meet with the teacher. Of course, you always have the right to write to the principal to request the removal of your child from lessons that deal with sexuality education.


“Sexuality education encourages promiscuity.”

Although some people are concerned that sexuality education may encourage young people to be sexually active, research does not support this anxiety. When reviewing programs from many countries, both Kirby et al. (1994) and the World Health Organisation (1994) found that carefully constructed, comprehensive programs with an objective of delaying the onset of sexual activity can achieve that result.


“The basics (reading, writing, and mathematics) are more important than this form of social education.”

Health and Physical Well-being is one of the eight essential learning areas in the national curriculum. It is a compulsory school subject until the end of year 10. Although there is some debate as to what balance should be struck within the school curriculum, the national curriculum acknowledges that

education of the whole person is important. Social learning needs that are ignored often have a negative impact on learning. Students are likely to learn more and achieve better academic results if their health education needs are addressed.

Relationship & Sexuality Education and The Law

The law identifies that a parent of a child under 16, may withdraw their child from the ‘sexuality’ component of the education. To do so, the parent is required to put their requirement in writing to the Principal prior to 24 hours before the program commences. This does not mean that the child would be excluded from the remainder of the program. If any parent has any queries or questions, or would like to visit to look at the program and resources more comprehensively, they are very welcome to contact and make an appointment with the TIC Health, Zara Thompson.

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