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Encouraging open and honest talk about periods

betty for schools research reveals inadequate period education

Our free period education resources for 8-12 year olds have launched as new research reveals that inadequate education and social taboos around menstruation are leaving many young women ill-prepared for their first time.

New research released this week by betty for schools has highlighted the need for better education and more open and honest conversations around periods and puberty in order to change the overwhelmingly negative experiences that women have during the first period.* The findings showed that almost half (47%) of women felt unprepared and didn’t know what to expect when their period started, and just 22% recalled feeling excited or happy about it, whilst nearly a third (32%) admitted to feelings of shame around this perfectly natural part of puberty.

The study, which surveyed over 2,000 women aged sixteen and upwards from across the UK, is released just weeks after it was announced by the government that sex and relationship education (SRE) is to become compulsory in all schools in England, and that PSHE education is also likely to be made compulsory in the future following further consultation on what it should include.

The results of the survey suggest that lessons around puberty and periods in particular should focus on more than just biology, and that more needs to be done to make the lessons engaging, interactive and relevant to young people. More than two thirds of the women surveyed said that the lessons they received about periods focused purely on the biological aspects and didn’t really answer the practical questions they had about sanitary products or what was ‘normal’ both physically and emotionally. Almost three quarters (73%) said they didn’t feel able to ask questions in their lessons about periods.

And this is where betty for schools comes to the rescue! Our free curriculum-linked period education programme supports both teachers and parents of boys and girls aged 8-12. It 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.

The resources are film-led, with a mix of animations, quizzes and interactive activities, and include real young people answering period-related questions openly and honestly. Along PSHE Association accredited teaching resources, betty for schools will be taking the betty bus on a tour of schools, providing a way to enhance the lesson learnings with interactive sessions for boys and girls.

Rebecca Martin, head of Partner Relations at betty for schools says, “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. The betty for schools programme has been designed to encourage open, respectful and honest conversations about periods in the classroom, and to empower teachers to deliver the sessions with confidence.”

Check out our resources here.

*The research was conducted by Censuswide between 1st and 6th March 2017. There were 2,000 female respondents from across the UK.

Image: Manjit Thapp