SOON, SEX education groups will be available for secondary school students and condoms will be distributed to pupils aged 16 and over. The Minister of Education, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, admitted on February 7 that the education system in Portugal had shied away from the issue for too long.
Therefore, with parents in agreement, a contract was signed foreseeing the co-operation of health centres and educational establishments to overcome the stigma still associated with this issue.
Lurdes Rodrigues has spoken with the Grupo de Trabalho (Group of Work) from the department of Health Education, led by psychiatrist Daniel Sampaio, and between them have been able to define the functions of the group.
Sampaio believes that an adult, teacher or nurse should always be present at group meetings, which should be located in areas where students can have free access but also where privacy is guaranteed. In these meetings, youths can collect information about sex, drugs and sexually transmitted diseases.
“Sex education should be standard in schools,” added Margarida Gaspar de Matos, psychologist and member of the Grupo de Trabalho. Daniel Sampaio hopes that, by March 31, these groups will be in action, however, Lurdes Rodrigues expects that most secondary schools won’t have groups in operation until the next academic year.
For the Minister of Health, Correia de Campos, these groups are a “unique vehicle” to prevent and fight the growing problem of unprotected teenage sex.