Here are some statistics that may startle you – almost one in three Australian teenagers have had sexual intercourse without a condom by the time they reach year 12.
Up to 500,000 Australians are estimated to have chlamydia and not even know it.
So it was a concern when sexual health advocates declared the draft national curriculum on sex education a ”dreadful attempt” at teaching sexual health in high schools when it was first released late last year.
The curriculum, which is still in its draft stages, has been criticized for allowing schools to simply side step any sexual health issues they feel uncomfortable with.
In Australia a survey last year asked 1,219 young Australians between the ages of 15 and 29 about their formal and informal sex education.
85% said they gained information from the internet while only 69% got information from their school.
64% said they learnt about sex from pornography.
More than 80% of these young people thought that sex-ed should be the same in every school.
The concern for many Australian parents is that if young people do not get the education they need at school they will turn to the internet.
Sex educators are worried that our curriculum will not do enough to counteract the rise of sexting and pornography and will lead to a generation of young men and women with unrealistic attitudes towards sex – and a generation of young men with dangerous attitudes towards girls.
Australia should perhaps take note of the way the issue is becoming front page news in the UK with a leading online mum’s site – Mumsnet joining prominent campaigners to petition for sex education to be compulsory in UK schools. And the reason they want is compulsory – in order to teach boys to respect girls.
The letter states that one in three girls is groped or has some other form of unwanted sexual touching at school.
They write that easy access to online pornography, which is often violent, has resulted in many young men believing that this sort of sex is the norm.
“In an age of one-click-away violent and degrading pornography online that is becoming the default sex-educator for some young people, this is woefully inadequate,” the letter says.
It has been signed by the heads of leading UK domestic violence charities, academics, Laura Bates, founder of the new Everyday Sexism campaign, and Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet.
“Since then internet use has grown exponentially and the lack of reference to the internet, online bullying or mobile technology in the guidelines seems hopelessly out of touch,” she said.
“Four in five of our users think sex education should address issues like pornography and sexting, and from a relatively young age.”