HIP strategic plan - Strengthening Engagement of Faith Actors in Family Planning (2) Choice of words in sexual education

25 January, 2023

Felix, very useful.

How to use words relating to sex?

Thank you Felix for the information about Schools teaching knowledge which does not transform automatically into practice.

You explain that religious leaders - Catholic and Muslim - are against artificial contraception and that instead they agree with our educational method, because it leaves users free to conceive or not. We are finding the choice of words in sexual education of interest.

We are providing a series of six Nebula lectures to 11, 12 1and 13 year olds and the choice of words seems very important. One of the doctors who is presenting told me that she was surprised when the teacher of one of her children expressed concerns that the children were using the words "penis" and "vagina". Does the teacher need to censor the use of these words or the context within which they are spoken?

A developing self awareness and entry into the world of adult relationships requires correct words with which to enquire and learn about themselves. The correct words are also necessary for negotiating consensual sexual relationships and parenthood.

How are we doing worldwide:

Accordingto the WHO in 2019 not perfectly

Adolescent pregnancy (who.int)

• As of 2019, adolescents aged 15–19 years in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) had an estimated 21 million pregnancies each year, of which approximately 50% were unintended and which resulted in an estimated 12 million births (1)(2).

• Data on childbirths among girls aged 10–14 are not widely available; limited available data from Angola, Bangladesh, Mozambique and Nigeria point to birth rates in this age group exceeding 10 births per 1000 girls as of 2020 (3).

• Based on 2019 data, 55% of unintended pregnancies among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years end in abortions, which are often unsafe in LMICs (1).

• Adolescent mothers (aged 10–19 years) face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis and systemic infections than women aged 20–24 years, and babies of adolescent mothers face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm birth and severe neonatal condition.

• Preventing pregnancy among adolescents and pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity are foundational to achieving positive health outcomes across the life course and imperative for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to maternal and newborn health.

Hopefully if we/the WHO, whoever, can independently and anonymously furnish the appropriate, legal, quality assured words and science tools to teachers, faith leaders, parents and sexual novices teaching and learning sexual behaviour can take place in an appropriate safeguarding way.

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data

Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT gmail.com