Wexford youth slate sex education in recent study
Sexual education in Wexford schools is delivered too late, in inappropriate settings and with insufficient attention to relationships, according to a new study conducted amongst local young people.
Entitled 'Young Wexford People Talking About Sex', the groundbreaking study concerns the sexual attitudes and behaviours of young people in County Wexford. It focused on young local people between the ages of 12 and 18, making it the first report of its kind in the county.
'Over a year ago, a number of local service providers that work with young people got together and noticed such research hadn't been done in Wexford,' explained Clare Williams, Manager of the Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service. 'They felt it was important to have that conversation.'
The report was launched by the Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service in association with TUSLA and other agencies, while research was conducted by independent researchers Kathy Walsh and Brian Harvey. Its findings fit well with European norms and previous Irish research. The young people considered a 'healthy sexual relationship' as one that took place at an appropriate age and in the context of a serious relationship. When it comes to accessing information about sex and relationships, the majority of participants said that they consult the internet or friends. Speaking with parents on these issues was generally considered awkward. The young people surveyed tended to be extremely critical of the quality and quantity of school-based sex education, saying that it was too little, too late.
At the launch of the study in the Riverbank House Hotel, these findings were discussed along with the recommendations, which included improving sexual education in schools, providing parents with guidance and developing specialised sexual health services for young people. Those in attendance were split into focus groups to determine how these recommendations could be implemented.
'We wanted this report to be a practical rather than an academic one,' explained Clare.
The main objective of this research was to identify young people's understanding of a healthy relationship, as well as explore the services that are available to them in Wexford. It is hoped that it will pave the way for improved services and education in this field.