by Georgia Hackett
US magazine Teen Vogue left many parents enraged after publishing an article titled ‘Anal Sex: What You Need to Know’ in June earlier this year.
Many Australian parents had similar views, some Facebook commenters saying there’s is “too much perversion in the world” and that it is “shameful and unfortunate”.
While there has been no evidence of the magazine being circulated at Perth schools, one local high school principal spoke to The Bounce this week about the importance of teaching proper sex-education.
Mitchell Mackay head of Fremantle’s gifted and talented high school John Curtin College of the Arts, says publications such as Teen Vogue are not the proper authority on the subject.
It’s not about the “mechanics” of sexual education, but about the communication and understanding that goes on at an emotional level, he says.
“That’s where magazines get it wrong, thinking that’s what’s important… It gets people talking but for all the wrong reasons, all those things are there but they’re not the real issue,” Mr Mackay says.
He says the over-sexualised content normalised in today’s society leads kids to reach sexual awareness by Year Six or Seven, where previously it was Year Nine or 1o. Attempting to prolong the vestiges of childhood innocence could be detrimental to their chances of forming safe relationships, both mentally and physically.
Parents are urged not to brush over discussions about sensitive topics if they want to promote understanding and acceptance, as “when you talk to them and what you shy away from is really important,” he says.
The school recently implemented a program called Blossom which is run by Jayde Robinson-Clancy, a girl’s guidance counsellor and mentor and public speaker on issues of positive body image and awareness in pubescent girls.
The program is aimed at girls going through the early stages of puberty, to teach them (and their parents) that sexual maturation doesn’t have to be excruciating.
As Ms Robinson-Clancy writes in her blog, The Blossom Guide : “There is no ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ no anti this or anti that, the conversation is simply based on the world and reality we are living in and how young women can identify their own values so that they can make informed choices and feel good about themselves”.
Mr Mackay says there are other programs being implemented for boys of the same age groups, as well as all-inclusive general health education.
“The focus should really be about relationships and communicating with each other, regardless of sexual orientation or gender… That’s where the real work to be done is,” he says.