Tuesday, 15 December 2009

New approach to sex ed?

This was in the Herald on Saturday, sorry to only just get around to posting it today:
A new state-funded experiment is turning traditional sex education on its head - abandoning lectures on the dangers of sexual activity and teaching young people how to get better sex through "ethical relationships".

The "sex & ethics" course, funded by $164,000 from the Ministry of Justice, is being piloted with people aged 16 to 25 at Victoria and Massey universities and two youth centres in Wellington.

Auckland-based Rape Prevention Education director Kim McGregor said she hoped it could be modified for eventual use in schools.

Parents Inc co-founder Ian Grant also welcomed the programme yesterday as "a step forward", but still advised teenagers to delay having sex for as long as they could.

The programme was developed by Australian criminologist Moira Carmody after young people told her in a survey that sex education focused too much on the risks of sex and did not prepare them for "the complexity of sexual intimacy".

The Wellington pilot, co-ordinated by the Wellington Sexual Abuse Network, aims to get young women as well as men to talk about what they want from a sexual relationship.

Its flyer lures people with the line, "If you are ever hoping to have good sex in your life, this is the programme for you."

Co-ordinator Sandra Dickson says it is "a new direction for sexual violence prevention."

"Instead of telling young people what not to do, it's looking at what we want in a sexual relationship and how to get it."
Click through for the rest, although prepare to be disappointed by the pic they've used to illustrate the story.

Seems to be a high focus on the need to communicate, particularly verbally, which is nice to see. Haven't spotted any frothing yet by Family First, I wonder if that's because there is a mildly approving quote from their good buddies at Parents Inc?


Hugh said...

A new state-funded experiment is turning traditional sex education on its head - abandoning lectures on the dangers of sexual activity and teaching young people how to get better sex through "ethical relationships".

This is a straw man. Sex education is not about 'lectures on the dangers of sexual activity' and hasn't been at least since 1991, when I first experienced it.

Looks like the old game of attempting to set up the old system as way more retrograde than it was so that extremely modest changes seem revolutionary and courageous by comparison.

Julie said...

I was bugged by that too Hugh. It seemed like me an ominous start to the article, but it's actually not bad at all. Phew. Must have been those pesky sub-eds again, will they never learn?

I'm always nervous about the word "courageous". Too much Yes Minister.

the Scarlet Manuka said...

This was on National Radio a few months ago, and the Auckland library conveniently had a copy Ms Carmody's coursebook and writeup of the underlying research. I've got them checked out over the holidays, so you'll have find another copy.

Carmody is definitely concerned that sex education is danger-focussed: particularly that anti-violence education puts an unintended negative light on any sex. In light of this she has deliberately worked to construct a course which focusses on positive interations.

I'm only part-way through the material, but finding it interesting. It fits with my preconception that men need positive masculinities to aspire to.

Anonymous said...

I can't help feeling that anything Ian Grant likes is probably not really a good thing no matter how nice the window-dressing is.

Anonymous said...

Sandra ran this programme up at Vic this year.

Excellent programme addressing extremely important issues - and not just for straight relationships. Is important we continue to support programmes such as this one.

katy said...

What they are calling "ethical relationships" sounds like the approach that my parents took to my sex ed and I think it was effective in terms of being able to think of sex in the much broader context of a relationship (however brief) with another person. However, I remember having these discussions much younger than at 16.

The sex ed we got at my all girls school was about how to avoid getting pregnant and/or an infection.

Luddite Journo said...

Ha ha, catching up on my reading and found this.

I'm afraid I found this article devastatingly poor - the sex & ethics programme is about working out how to negotiate sexual encounters that are mutual and fun - whether they be same sex, one-night stands, or long-term relationship sex. It's explicit about how we negotiate consent, it's explicit about why unwanted sex is not always called "rape", even when it often meets the legal definition, and it looks at all the different kinds of pressures on young people when it comes to sex - negotiating pleasure and risk.

The article, and the endorsement by conservative types, is still giving me queries to respond to at work. Most of which I suspect will disappear when the programme content is fully understood.

Trust the media :-)