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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3250.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - Board 6

Abstract #116771

Conversations and controversies: A sexuality education program in Chile

Bonnie L. Shepard, MPA, MEd, International Health and Human Rights Program, Harvard School of Public Health, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, 651 Huntington Ave. 702D, Boston, MA 02115, 617-432-1008, bshepard@hsph.harvard.edu

This study analyzes the history of the Chilean government's sex education school-based program in the 1990s, which counted on the involvement and support of the Ministries of Education, Health, Women, and Youth. The study is based on interviews with the main stakeholders in the program over a three-year period, observation of program trainings, and review of program documents and statistics -- including the manual and three evaluations. This participatory program model is based on peer-led workshops with “conversations on relationships and sexuality.” The program involved administrators, parents, teachers and students in both organizing and running the workshops, and took place in half the country's secondary schools over a four-year period. The workshops were designed to break the silence on these taboo topics within the school, bring students into contact with community resource people (including health service providers), and stimulate on-going dialogue among students, and between students and adults, on issues related to sexuality. The presentation examines the lessons learned from implementing the workshops, the limitations of parent involvement, and the tensions among the different sectors involved. Although the program was among the government's most popular initiatives according to opinion polls, it was still vulnerable to controversies. The presentation discusses the political and social dynamics that led to the program's demise, including analysis of the role of conservative media and religious hierarchy. The study sheds light on factors affecting the political will to sustain comprehensive, secular sex education programs.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Adolescents, International, Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.


The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA