Why #MeToo should be used to teach Sex Education in Schools
#MeToo movement is creating a lot of buzz in social, digital, & through them to the academic sectors as well. Hollywood is the originator of this debate but what a good initiative it was that helped to open up in all areas of society on this.
Generated much-needed discussion about inappropriate sexual behavior and what constitutes consent to any sexual encounter. Despite some backlash, there is a sense women have reached a new level of agitation that won’t settle. But such cultural revolutions require a change at many levels, from the interpersonal to the institutional. Young people are important in this revolution – many are leaders of the movement. Others need the knowledge and skills to interpret signals, towards the innocent minds.
Although this information is running through various channels but formal school education is widely accepted as one of the appropriate institutions for teaching children and adolescents about relationships, sexual and reproductive health, and personal responsibility.
Post-#MeToo, teachers who are already engaged in skills-building in the area of consent might explore its nuances. They might delve deeper into sexual harassment and what it looks and feels like. And help shift young people’s understanding that consent is not just about (mainly) girls saying “no”, but also (mainly) boys understanding “yes”.
This year, UNESCO published a revised version of their 2009 International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education.This report summarises decades of evidence of the positive impact comprehensive sexuality education has on measurable aspects of sexual behavior. These include delaying commencement of sexual intercourse, reducing the number of partners and increasing use of contraception and condom use.
In Australia, the principles of sexuality education are covered by the National Health and Physical Education curriculum. This includes a range of topics broadly classified as aspects of consent. As early as kindergarten, the curriculum areas include:
- Understanding in what situations parts of the body should be kept private, recognising one’s own emotions and learning how to express them, and being able to name people you trust and places you feel safe.
- As the curriculum progresses through primary and secondary school, these themes continue. Attention is paid to understanding the body as it develops, recognizing emotion, exploring empathy and respectful relationships, particularly among peers.
- This will involve conversations about the building blocks of respect. Teachers and students need to examine why women and their bodies are still objectified despite four waves of feminism. They might also explore the unconscious ways sexism writes the sexual scripts that children and adolescents learn.
This is rich material for many subject curricula, and our teachers have the skills to do this well. It’s only one component of the revolution, but playing an active part is surely what lies at the heart of the #MeToo movement.
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