Parental engagement necessary for any sex education in Queensland schools
The debate has been raised in relation to sex-education in Queensland State schools following a new poll conducted for The Courier-Mail.
The Courier-Mail poll found that 84 percent of parents polled believe all Queensland state schools should be required to offer sex education. Only 8 percent of parents and 15 percent of the 800 adults surveyed believe sex education should be a discretionary subject for State schools.
The debate highlights some important considerations in relation to who is responsible for educating children about relationships and sex. Given the current controversy over the Federal government's Safe Schools Coalition Program (SSCP), a compulsory government program may not be the answer. As a community, parents and schools need to work together to find a good solution to ensuring children develop as resilient young boys and girls capable of facing the pressures that popular culture and technology have brought about regarding relationships and sex.
Today many young children learn the most about their relationships and sex through the bombardment of explicit images and pornography they can easily access, either deliberately or not online. Young people are often exposed to distorted and unhealthy ideas about body image, sex and relationships. Pop culture trends such as sexting combined with peer pressure and bullying place enormous psychological pressure on young people to engage in such behaviours, often before they are emotionally or physically mature enough to deal with their consequences.
There is also no doubt that Queensland children are engaging in these activities. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 40 percent of all sexual assaults in Queensland are perpetrated by school-age children, while the number of young people under 19 committing sex crimes in Australia has almost doubled in five years; 770 being under the age of 15. Many of these crimes involve cyber-based incidence such as sending semi-naked or naked pictures via text message.
So what is the answer to these concerning trends?
Currently, in Queensland, State schools are not required to offer sex-education classes. The decision about whether a school offers sex education is up to the discretion of the school principal, Parents and Citizens Associations and the school community.
There is no doubt that the importance of providing sex and relationship education in a values-based context is fundamental to a young person’s development. A mandatory Statewide sex education program, however, is not the way to achieve this.
Parents have a primary and fundamental role in the education and nurturing of their children’s development in this area. It is their responsibility first and foremost to impart values and skills to help their children to develop skills to be resilient to peer pressure, value their own sexuality in the context of relationships and be savvy about recognising how technology, in particular, social media and the porn industry, is ready to entice and manipulate young people with distorted views of sex and relationships. It would, therefore, undermine this parental role if the Queensland government were to enforce one particular sex education program in State schools.
It would also be concerning if a mandatory sex education program was introduced without parental consent or an opt-out clause, such as with the SSCP in the State of Victoria. This program has been particularly controversial as it was couched initially as a school anti-bulling program but since its implementation, the co-creator of the program Roz Ward has stated that the program is “not about stopping bullying”, but “about gender and sexual diversity.” Victoria is pressing on with the program despite recommended changes following a Federal government review which found that some of the program content was confusing and corrupting in the sense that it was directing children to age-inappropriate websites including links to pornography. Such programs are providing mixed messaging to young people and exposing them prematurely to adult concepts and indecent material.
Questions need to be answered before this idea of mandatory sex education goes any further such as would parents and schools have input and collaboration into the content that was being taught? Would parents and schools continue to be able to opt-out of the program if they wished to do so? Would the program honestly be a sex-education program or would it like, the SSCP, be used as a tool to push social agenda and ideology rather than a sincere wish to protect children?
As Parents are the child's primary educators particularly in this sensitive area of relationships and sex education, we would like to ensure that any discussion to introduce compulsory sex education in schools is a collaborative project between parents, schools and the government. We do not want to see compulsory programs introduced that are merely social engineering projects disguised as sex education programs that we have seen occur in other States.
We would like to suggest an awareness campaign directed towards parents to alert adults to what their children may be exposed to through new technologies and popular social trends. This could assist to ensure that parents play a primary and deliberate role to help their children develop as resilient and strong young people with the ability to overcome peer and cultural pressures.
We would like to work together with the government to ensure that every child and young person develop a healthy attitude towards sex and their relationships. This is an important foundation for the building up of healthy families and communities.
Please sign this petition now and send a message to the Hon Kate Jones Minister for Education on this important issue.
Sign this petition now!
Parental engagement is essential key to sex and relationship education in Queensland Schools