Sex education: Italy (still) brings up the rear in Europe

TOthe light of a summer marked dramatically by violence like that of Palermo and Caivanothe government had announced the adoption of specific programs sex education. But everything remains theoretical

We’re back to the discussion sex education at the end of a very disturbing summer due to the sexual violence that occurred in Palermo this is in Caivano and which caused very strong reactions, in light of the involvement of very young people.

Italy, on the other hand, remained one of the few European nations, along with Cyprus, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania And Lithuaniabecause they have not included formal sex education programs in their training programs, not even in high school, and over the years sixteen parliamentary proposals tried to introduce them, without success.

Minister Valditara’s proposal: classroom lessons with student “teachers”

Just in the wake of what happened this summer, however, the Minister of Education, Giuseppe Valditara, had predicted in Messaggero that the government would work out a “project against gender-based violence“, a complex model in which sex education inevitably plays a fundamental role. In Valditara’s predictions, “sex education” classes should include hours devoted to discussing gender equality, chauvinism, consent and various forms of gender-based violence . The method to be tested represents something new, at least in Italy, because it includes the so-called “peer education“, or education that takes place among peers, that is, among students.

Each class, according to the project, should be divided into groupsand to everyone group of students a topic will be assigned on which to focus a lesson. The aim is to involve students as much as possible and overcome any barriers through communication with peers. A panel of experts, mainly psychologists, will enrich the discussion, coordinate and provide information. While announcing the entry into force of this measure with the new school year, to date there is no trace of the circular regulating the guidelines for sexual and emotional education in schools.

Italy is one of the few remaining countries that does not have compulsory sex education in the classroom

Sex education at school does not exist in Italy: a petition to break taboos


Sex education at school does not exist in Italy: a petition to break taboos

Therefore, Italy remains a country where sex education in the classroom, if addressed, is the initiative of individual principals or school administrations. This is the case of Rome, where last March Municipality V approved a resolution aimed at promoting sex education in the area’s primary and lower secondary schools. But this is just to cite a recent case, which demonstrates the fact that a systemic approach to the subject has not yet been adopted. And this despite the fact that sex education in schools appeared in Europe already in the 1950s: in Sweden became a compulsory course in 1955, in Germany in 1968, in Denmark, Finland And Austria in 1970, the France adapted in 1998.

And yet it is the same World Health Organisation indicating how, although the initiation of sexual activity is part of it normal development of a young personstarting too early or without proper attention to sexually transmitted infections can have negative health effects.

The prevention of these pathologies, together with the promotion of sexual education in all segments of the population, is at the heart of a global strategy of the World Health Organization, “Sexually Transmitted Infections 2016-2021”.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe and the BZgA, the German Federal Center for Health Education have been collaborating on the topic since 2003 and in 2010 developed a document containing common guidelines for all the countries of the European Union, underlining how “the holistic approach to sexuality education is fundamental to promote the overall development of children and young people, as well as the development of their sexual behaviour. This approach allows them develop and expand your knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and rights and supports them in developing decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills. In addition, it allows them to develop a positive and responsible attitude towards sexuality and relationships.”

Nevertheless, as mentioned, until today in Italy sex education remains an issue highly contested and certainly not adopted officially. The reasons are varied: on the one hand the stigma and prejudices on the subject, in a country of deep Catholic origin in which sex remains, in some respects, taboo, on the other hand the absence of a strategy and educational vision in this sense. However, as evidenced by research from the Italian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 37% of Italian women want more information on sexual well-being and health, and over 20% of young people between the ages of 20 and 30 admitted to learning false, or only partially accurate, information about sexuality online.

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