Sex education in a mess
Every year some 20,000 teenage Polish girls give birth making the country one of Europe’s leaders when it comes to the number of mothers below the legal age of consent.
Without better education, groups advocating better family planning claim, this figure will remain high and perhaps increase.
“Young people have limited access to knowledge,” said Aleksandra Jozefowska from the Ponton Group of Sex Educators. “Schools have no reliable sex education, and in many cases the subject simply does not exist or only crops up when teachers are covering other topics. Young people who enter into a relationship have no theoretical knowledge on how to protect themselves.”
Sex education has become a sensitive subject in Poland. With the topic left to the discretion of regional education authorities, many prefer to opt out rather than risk incurring the wrath of the church or conservative parents.
The problem is particularly acute, apparently, in rural areas where resources are stretched thin or fail to exist.
With little or no help coming from the state, teenagers, added Ms Jozefowska, also fail to get support from their parents.
“Young girls, until they reach adulthood, cannot get a prescription for the pill alone,” she said. “If teenagers do not want their parents to know that they have started a sexual relationship, they will rather have sex without protection than ask for help from home in this area.”