The purpose of this study was to explore the expectations of parents in a remote mountainous commune in Vietnam about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education for their children. Separate in-depth interviews were conducted with 34 parents of eight-year-old children and key informants
including a principal, a teacher and staff of the Youth Union. All parents perceived a need for their children to be educated about SRH. Fathers and mothers had different expectations of what girls and boys should learn. Most parents wanted their children to be informed about biological differences,
puberty and menstruation before or by the time pubertal changes began (before Grade Five or Six). Most also wanted their children to learn in detail about contraception, HIV/AIDS/STD prevention and intimate relationships but not until they were aged at least 15 (Grade Eight). Parents also
wanted access to information about adolescent SRH so as to be able to understand adolescents' experiences and express their values without being judgmental. None of the parent informants perceived themselves as able to educate their children about any of these matters and expected the school
and the Youth Union to be primary educators. However, apart from single lessons in Grade Five and Grade Nine, neither of these agencies provides SRH education. The head of the Youth Union and lecturers at secondary school stated that they were not capable of providing SRH training as none
of their staff were specifically trained in SRH and they had no access to appropriate SRH educational materials. Meanwhile, there was no public library or bookstore in the commune where young people could have access to SRH reading material. There is a major gap between the SRH education needs
of parents and children in remote rural areas of Vietnam and the resources required to address these needs. The findings of this research should inform government policy-makers and national and international organizations about the needs for SRH education in remote communities in Vietnam and
parents' preferences about how this can be provided.
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Document Type: Research Article
Research and Training Centre for Community Development, Hai Ba Trung District Hanoi, Vietnam
Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
February 1, 2011
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