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Teaching sex education: are Scottish school nurses prepared for the challenge?

Nurse Education Today
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.nedt.2003.10.003
  • Research
  • Questionnaire
  • Survey
  • School Nurses
  • Sex Education
  • Educational Status
  • Education


Abstract Teaching sex education to school pupils in Scotland continues to be a controversial issue. In reality there is lack of leadership, strategy and an uncoordinated approach to delivering this important topic. The school nurse is frequently identified as a suitable professional to lead the way because it is assumed that school nurses are well educated in the field of sexual and reproductive health. Nationally, little is known about the educational status of Scottish school nurses and there is no research evidence available from which generalisations can be made. This study aims to explore the educational preparation of school nurses that underpins teaching sex education to school pupils in Scotland. A cross-sectional descriptive study was completed in September 1998. The results confirmed that school nurses in Scotland are predominantly female and 70% of the respondents ( n=117) were over the age of 40 years of age. No common basic nursing qualification was identified. The majority of school nurses in Scotland perceive sex education to be part of their role and 39% ( n=65) testified that specific sexual health training had been undertaken. Many lack confidence in this area of practice and are aware of extensive educational needs in relation to teaching sexual health and reproductive health. Despite these findings 75% ( n=126) were actively involved in teaching sex education to school pupils.

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