Friday 28 July 2017

This new study shows a startling gap in education about periods

By Prudence Wade

Nearly half of women in the survey didn’t know what was happening when they first started menstruating.

For some reason, periods remain a taboo subject in today’s society. New research by Betty for Schools shows the extent to which education about periods is still falling short.

The research found that 47% of women felt unprepared and didn’t know what to expect when their period started. Data was collected by talking to 2,000 females aged 16 and over across the UK between March 1 and March 6 of this year.

What’s even scarier is that nearly a third of women surveyed (32%) admitted to feelings of shame when their period began – despite the fact that it is an entirely natural and normal part of life.

However, the findings don’t come as a huge shock, considering it was only at the start of this month that the Government made sex and relationship education (SRE) compulsory in all schools.

In a written statement, Education Secretary Justine Greening said that statutory guidance for SRE introduced in 2000 had become “increasingly outdated”, failing to address issues that had become increasingly common. Before the new move, sex education was compulsory only for secondary pupils in schools run by local authorities.

Hopefully this will help open up the conversation around periods. The study run by femcare brand Betty for Schools found that 73% of women felt like they weren’t able to ask questions in their lessons about periods, and over two thirds said that the lessons focused purely on the biological aspects and didn’t really answer any practical questions.

Betty for Schools is trying to fill in these gaps in knowledge by providing a free period education programme for teachers and parents of children aged eight to 12. The programme “has been designed together with education experts and young people, to create a generation of girls and boys who are truly at ease talking about periods”.

Rebecca Martin, head of partner relations at Betty for Schools, said: “Despite the common belief that we live in a much more open and enlightened age when it comes to issues around sex, sexuality and the human body, the results of our survey clearly show that we still have a long way to go in applying the same approach to the subject of periods.”

With the new changes from the Government and resources like Betty for Schools, hopefully the taboo surrounding periods will soon be smashed.

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