Sex education at school, Italy is confirmed as bringing up the rear in Europe

Not everyone is granted adequate training on the use of contraceptives and on the safest practices for a correct and healthy relationship. The data points to this, especially in Italy Eurydice, crossed with the objectives of Agenda 2030 and of the United Nations, which assert the formal importance of conducting correct sexual education with multiple purposes: knowledge of one’s body and potential, general improvement of self-esteem, dialogue and reciprocity. There are numerous taboos to break down or isolate, especially in the deepest Christian societies where speaking in public about certain issues is considered inappropriate or even scurrilous. In any case, ideological issues aside, sex education in the classroom constitutes a real formal right of students: it is sufficient to deal with the most recent guidelines of the UN and UNESCO but if that were not enough there is in support of Goal 3 of the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development, which formally calls for “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including family planning”. What educational standards are offered in schools across Europe?

Sex education in Italy: opinions, data

At the Casa Internazionale della Donna in a conference held recently, the AIED president Mario Puiatti announced that there are numerous European realities that have not provided for a regular inclusion of sex education programs in European schools. “Italy – observed the president – it is one of the very few countries in Europe, together with Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Lithuania, Spain, without curricula on the merits“. The Ministry of Health has released some useful data to understand the organic picture of the situation. In the absence of adequate and structured training, where do students look for useful information and who do they turn to? Consulting offices do not amount to many units on the territory (a fact useful for understanding the not very pragmatic approach of the institutions). In this regard Puiatti added: “Today 8 out of 10 middle school and university students look for information in the sexual and reproductive field on the internet (only 1 out of 4 asks in the family), but the vast majority (94%) believe it is the school that has to guarantee information on sexuality and reproduction: these are the data from the National Fertility Study presented by the Ministry of Health (2019).”

The European case: guidelines, data, maps and objectives

The EU, through the European Commission, implements all the indications of the UN, UNESCO and WHO regarding the principles and objectives linked to the rights of self-determination and family. In their international technical guide on sexuality education UNESCO recommends eight key concepts that sexuality education should be developed around: sexuality, relationships, safety, health, gender culture. UNESCO has drawn up guidelines on sexuality education in Europe according to the practices adopted in individual countries. The European realities where these paths are not compulsory are Lithuania, Hungary, Italy, Spain and the Eastern Balkans (Greece excluded). This is disclosed in a specific document Sex education across the European Union: an overview, which offers a comprehensive snapshot of programs of this nature in Europe. At the moment, the major problem to be addressed is related to the optional nature of sex education programmes, dependent on the individual initiatives of teachers and the limited participation of students, which in Italy is at an all-time low.

Sex education at school, Italy is confirmed as bringing up the rear in Europe