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Sex education in Northern Ireland schools: a critical evaluation

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To date there has been little research on young people and sexuality in Northern Ireland. This paper draws on the first major study in this area to analyse the delivery of formal sex education in schools. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to access young people's opinions about the quality of the sex education they had received at school. Overall, they reported high levels of dissatisfaction, with notable variations in relation to both gender and religious affiliation. In one sense their opinions mesh well with those of young people in other parts of these islands. At the same time the specificity of sexuality in Ireland plays a key role in producing the moral system that underlies much of formal sex education in schools. Underpinned by a particularly traditional and conservative strain of Christian morality, sex education in Northern Ireland schools is marked by conservatism and silence and by the avoidance of opportunities for informed choice in relation to sexuality on the part of young people.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Ulster, UK 2: Queen's University, Belfast, UK 3: fpaNi, Belfast, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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