Gender differences in the preferred and actual sources of sexual education amongst senior secondary school learners.
This study investigated whether the current provision of sex education made available through the Life Orientation Curriculum in South African Secondary Schools is directly applicable and relevant to the sexual developmental and identity formation needs of learners at a senior secondary school level. This study resulted from the desire to point out that students at this stage in their lives require more than the precautionary biological information that is often readily available to them through the curriculum as well as other parental and health care sources. A survey was carried out at two single gender schools on the Bluff in Durban and an attempt was made to gather data on the gender differences that arose between the two samples in terms of the sources of sex education from which they are drawing. The sample size was 179 learners with 89 female learners and 90 male learners. The preferred source of sex education by both girls and boys were parents accounting for 34,5% of the girls and 18,6% of the boys. The second highest rated source for boys was their teachers with a frequency of 17,5%. However, girls indicated a greater preference for professional sex educators than teachers with 7,3% and 5,1% respectively. This was different from the sources that the students were actually receiving their sex education from, with boys and girls regarding teachers as their best source with a frequency of 16,5% for boys and 13,6% for girls. The next best rated source for boys with a frequency of 14,2% were male and female friends with a very similar distribution of the boys indicating a preference for male or female friends with a frequency of 7,4% and 6,8% respectively. Girls had a higher satisfaction level than boys with current knowledge of sex however had lower satisfaction level than boys on finding out about things to do with sex. The mean score for girls (M=5,35) is significantly lower than for boys (M=5,44), t=0.386, df172, p<.005 on the topic of satisfaction about finding out about things to do with sex. The mean score for boys for the topic of satisfaction with current knowledge of sex (M=5.60) is significantly lower than the mean score for girls (M=5,77), t=0,925, df171, p<.005. Both boys and girls indicated that parents were not an adequate source of sex education and fathers were less likely than mothers to be involved in communication on the topic of sex with them. Boys were more likely than girls to engage in sexual behavior and activities and be sexually active as indicated by the regression where gender contributed 22,4% to the model (The Sexual Activities Scale) at 0.003 level of significance. It seems that girls are more comfortable to share information iv amongst themselves than boys are. Boys seem more willing to communicate and learn from both genders in their peer groups. The Life Orientation Curriculum has been efficient in informing students on precautionary biological information however boys and girls are interested in learning about sex and sexuality and are not receiving this information from their scholarly source but rather from a number of different sources. There is also evidence that gender differences exist when it comes to learning about sex and thus may suggest that the Life Orientation Curriculum’s sex education component should be segmentable on the basis of gender i.e. the messages about sex should be sculpted in a different manner for boys as compared to girls.