Teen provokes official response on sex education

| 19/08/2013

CNS): A petition started by 17-year-old Madeleine Rowell for more comprehensive, age appropriate sex education across the country’s schools has prompted ministry of education officials to re-examine the current curriculum. Although officials stated in a release on Friday that sex education is provided in all government schools, the 250 signatures on the petition is an indication, the government said, that the policy needed to be revisited to meet the changing needs of students and this time the kids themselves would be asked for input into shaping the new policy.

“Students have not previously been engaged in the formulation of the policy and provision," the ministry said in the statement. “We will be actively engaging young people to assist us in the process, as well as drawing on the expertise of the Red Cross, the Department of Counselling Services and other relevant community stakeholders.”

Still a controversial issue in Cayman, the government officials were quick to point out that the subject is not compulsory. “We recognise that there are many different views on sex education, and so parents may choose to have their children opt out of sex education in Government high schools,” they stated.

In addition, the government has no control over the private sector, where some schools have little or no formal sex education policies, but officials recommended that those schools consider “adopting and implementing” the public school policy.

The Sex and Relationship Education policy requires all government secondary schools to provide sex and relationship education, including education about HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and must teach human growth and reproduction, as set out in the National Curriculum. In addition, principals are required to ensure that sex education is provided in a way that encourages students to consider morals and the value of family life.

Sex education is not included in the primary school curriculum and students do not learn about the physical and emotional changes during puberty until Year 6 in science class. Primary school students do learn about appropriate relationships and contact, and  about keeping safe as part of the Personal, Social and Moral learning curriculum. In addition, principals are required to ensure that sex education is provided in a way that encourages students to consider morals and the value of family life.

In her petition Madeleine called on government to improve access for young people to information, testing, and contraception aimed at reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, the ages of children now becoming sexually active has become lower as young as 12 yrs old. Parents are not talking to their daughters (especially) about sex and the responsibilities that come with being sexually active. Therefore, it should be discussed with kids leaving 6th grade entering junior & high schools. The reality is every where in the world is experiencing the problem of teen pregancyies and even though it is viewed as exploitation I've watched MTV's '16 & Pregant" with my 10yr old (at the time) as an example of what can happen. I haven't been able to quite explain what STD's are but will find a way because that too is very important. I was never given the talk about "sex" from my mother because her mother didn't have it with her. It's an unfortunate cycle that I hope to break by talking openly to my daughter and having her ask questions receiving meaningful answers because she needs to trust me enough to talk to me about "sex" when it actually becomes relevant.

    That's just my opinion…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I offer practical lessons to anyone legal.

  3. Anonymous says:

    actually the CIG gives money to the  private schools as well.

    But weneed to realise that if the CIG had to provide schooling for all those children there would be added funds  needed.

     

  4. Peter Zuffrie says:

    I believe that the message to youngsters should be one of absintence from sex until marriage rather than making contraceptives available.  Yea, yea I can hear the criticism to come …. this view is to old fashion and out of date. I remain with my position: the world is far too liberal a place now. Traditional and conservative practices have served the Cayman Islands well over the years and should not be tossed away. Politicians do not have the guts to stnd-up against the tide of liberalism and anything goes mentality nowadays. Do people believe that needing wardens on school buses is a positive development? NO, it shows students are not disciplined and well behaved. Taking the strap out of school was another bad development. Politicians do not have the guts to look parents and wishy-washy liberals in the eyes and say, the Cayman Islands are returning to discipline and order. Bring-on the criticsm now but it won't change reality: education system in public schools is trashed and it is traditional methods that will improve things not greater freedoms to do as one pleases. We are stronger than the liberals!

    • Anonymous says:

      Politicans do not have the guts to stand up to liberalism? No, they have huge brass ones to stand up to the old "conservaitve" establishment and churches which are just bye-words for control freaks..they love to control everyone, except themselves…I have seen and met hundreds of so called "Christians" and "conservatives" with the worst means streaks among any people I know- people with real complexes and hang ups who need to be in a "labelled" establishment of some kind because they do not have the brains or the balls to think for themselves. Get a life 22.10 and don't bother trying to control ours. Eudcation is what is needed, the more the better.

    • M for Anonymous says:

      Your point of view is understandable and commendable.

      The petition is for comprehensive material to be available for all stands and for all types of students. The abstinence take is not old fashion, but to solely provide this side will and does deny critical information from being provided to students who may have not chosen that route.

      You ask others to criticize this view and people will, but only because you are asking for your single view point to be "the way". That's like given a student a book with 1 page and expecting them to know what's missing. Curiosity killed the cat… and in many cases got the child prego, the other an incurable STD, and a bright one became a under educated and poorly paid citizen with 5 kids, all before 26. (I know over kill, but true in Cayman)

      So I say, providing all the information (age appropriate where necessary) will do more good than preaching single sided opinions. At the end of the day everyone is in charge of their own decisions.

      The positive slogan that I want you to take away from this topic is, In order to make an educated decision, we must first educate.

      There's no shame in knowing, but there is shame in remaining ignorant. Let's empower our youth.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What a bullshit answer! Clearly the policy does not work and is not in effect for all schools! here you have a young person, a supposed BENEFICIARY  of this great work of art which is this goverment policy TELLING YOU that IT DOES NOT WORK and your response is "we'll get to it and we'll include you when we do" but with no timeline? Not to mention that the whole "opt out" business is plain STUPID.  Education is for EVERYONE, not just the "loose" or "rough" or "dangerous" or "bad" public school kids, but for EVERYONE.  Once you have a school in Cayman  you should adhere to these standards, and we need to set our standards higher.  Our TAX DOLLARS are being used towards private schools, so yes, WE HAVE A SAY on what ALL our kids should be privy to, not just the ones that can't afford your $10,000 tuition a year.   Grow a pair, CIG! GROW.A.PAIR!

    • Diogenes says:

      How exactly is taxpayer money being used for private schools?  Seems to me the other way around – tax payers who send their kids to a private school have some of their tax dollars used to subsidise the education in CIG schools, not CIG parents subsidising private schools. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Pretty sure there are no taxes in the Cayman Islands…

        • Anonymous says:

          They keep telling us that but are food and utility prices are through the roof. There is no income tax but we still pay for it.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Government actually does give private schools grants each year. This is done in the form of transfer payments. Government also carries out inspections and other regulatory activities that cost taxpayer money to deliver private school education.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am the parent of a 9 year old girl in the government primary school system. I believe that they should be taught at this level about the changes which their bodies will go though. I have already had such talks with my daughter who was able to process the information. She was coming home misinformed by her peers about body changes and sex. Many childrrn at this level are already going through physical changes so why hide the facts?

  7. Anonymous says:

    When I was in school, religious education was compulsory. Meanwhile, there were teachers giving some students "private" sex education. I swear sometimes I feel like I live in Salem or Harper Valley. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    Agreed.  An "opt-out" is exactly the same as an "opt-in" to ignorance and stupidity.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Knowledge is power.

     

    Power to the kids.

     

    If they do not get the knowledge, then they are doomed to become victims.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but my child was in year five (just turned 10) in a Gov. School when he was shown pictures on how male and female body changes as they grow, and the nurse talked about it. We (he) felt a little too detailed and wished they had waited until yr 6. He has books that are age appropriate (10-13) and he knows he can come to us with any questions. Maybe in Primary schools they could send the teaching materials home and let the parents decide if their child is ready for the school lesson or if they would rather talk to their child in the privacy of their home not in front of classmates.  It's tough as child all mature at a different age.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can what happens in real life be "too detailed"???? The fact that you are not comfortable discussing it probably means you need some therapy, not your kids…

      • Anonymous says:

        That's a little rough buddy, maybe you ought to have a little therapy. Just sayin

      • Anonymous says:

        Responding to 9:15 You missunderstood what I have written, I said he felt too detailed as in being shown womans parts infront of his classmates, we are very open with both our boys, we teach them to respect women, some parents raise their boys that they are not men unless they have plenty of girl friends at the same time and some girls crave attention and love so much that they allow themselves to put up with it . The only therapy I need is to have more patience with people that are so negative, quick to ctiticise and think the Government and schools are responsible for the up bringing of our children! There is a huge lack of respect for others and themselves!!! Yes we need sex education in the schools my point was that it depends on how it is done and at what age., some are sexually aware at 9  but some are not.  How old were your children when you explained the beauty of their body and how sacred it is?

  11. sarah says:

    I agree with post 11.12 , they should also be taught that having sex is something they should not feel pressured in doing! If their partner says they would 'do it' if they loved them, they should have the strength to say if you love me then you'll wait!  Too many children having children, causing financial and emotional strains on the families.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Allowing an opt out is the worst thing that could be done…all kids need to be taught the dangers involved in sex…the ones who do not get the education will be the ones most at risk