The Education Ministry on Tuesday said it will implement a more comprehensive sex education programme in primary schools starting November in order to combat sexual violence against children.
Access to sex education pertains to children’s rights, specifically the right to access to information, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said, adding that sex education is “absolutely necessary” for children’s healthy and balanced growth and personal development.
“Sex education empowers children and young people and equips them with the information, skills and positive values to understand and enjoy their sexuality, to experience responsibly and safely their interpersonal relationships and friendships”.
Quoting Lanzarote Committee chair Christel De Craim, Prodromou said that “sexual violence against children is an ongoing pandemic that has victims all over the world”.
The committee is the monitoring body ensuring that states in Europe and beyond follow the Lanzarote Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse) take measures to prevent sexual violence, to protect child victims and to prosecute perpetrators.
Prodromou added that the ministry has long placed protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation within its top priorities, and will be promoting sex education as a means of putting emphasis on prevention.
“Paying serious attention to modern needs, the ministry has decided to further upgrade sex education programmes at schools, expanding the age range to include younger children who are in nursery school and lower grades of primary school”.
More specifically, the department of primary education will require teachers in preschool and first grade of primary school to include mandatory sessions in their syllabus that will cover issues related to sex education “in a clear and targeted way”.
To this end, the ministry has prepared a manual with suggested lesson plans to help guide teachers in teaching their pupils ‘the Underwear Rule,’ also encouraging them to contribute to cultivating more skills and knowledge on the subject.
The new programmes have been scheduled for November, the minister said, adding that November 18 is the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.