Cork lecturer in Child Psychology highlights importance of sex education in schools

Cork lecturer in Child Psychology highlights importance of sex education in schools
Book with title Sex education on a table.

A Cork lecturer of Child Psychology has highlighted the need for informed sex education for children and young people in Ireland.

A new sex education bill is currently making its way through the Oireachtas before becoming law.

There have been reports of scaremongering from some groups who claim that proposed changes to the sex-ed curriculum go too far and would see children as young as five learning about masturbation - this is not the case.

Dr Judith Butler, lecturer in child psychology at Cork Institute of Technology, spoke to The Echo about the importance of informed sex education.

“Sex and Relationship Education is required to be taught in Irish primary and post-primary schools,” she explained.

“A review found that students want better education in the area in an age-appropriate way from primary school.

“They also asserted that it is not taught as well as other subjects,” she added.

“However, some people have concerns and are not convinced of the need for sex education.

“There are concerns that sex education would promote sexual activity.” 

However, Dr Butler said she cannot find any research or evidence that providing students with sexual and, indeed reproductive health education increases sexual activity.

“In fact,” she said, “appropriate sexual education at primary and post-primary have been proven to reduce misinformation and increase young people’s skills to make better-informed decisions about their health.

“Research from the UK, for example, highlighted that in schools where sex education was offered, students were more knowledgeable about STIs and contraception, and were less likely to be sexually active at 16,” explained Dr Butler.

“Fundamentally, it is recognised that countries that have a more positive attitude toward sex education have better sexual health outcomes.” Dr Butler also highlighted the need for teachers to be trained in delivering sex education.

“The success of any sex education curriculum however is largely based on the skilled teacher,” she added.

“If we are to inform our students we need highly skilled teachers in this domain.”

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