The National Confederation of Parents’ Associations (CONFAP) would like to see sex education made a compulsory part of the Portuguese school curriculum as from next year. Albino Almeida from CONFAP says: “There are statistics revealing that our young people, particularly those between 16 and 25, have a high rate of Aids.” In addition, Portugal has one of Europe’s highest levels of teenage pregnancy and HIV infection, a situation that has led the association to press the Ministry of Education to introduce compulsory sex education classes.
Psychiatrist Daniel Sampaio says the lack of such education in Portugal is a startling omission. “There is no sex education in Portugal – teachers don’t have much training, the method of teaching is frequently ineffective and dialogue between parents and children about these questions is always very difficult.” But the psychiatrist maintains that, “parents could be helped to know how to talk about these questions of sexuality and about the messages they should convey to their children”. Sampaio also says schools should have, “structured programmes about the male-female relationship, homosexuality and prevention of teenage pregnancy”.
Studies have revealed that Portuguese teenagers usually speak to their fathers to resolve sexual doubts, but talk to their mothers and friends when it comes to more general conversations about sex.