Catholic parents' perceptions of young people's learning about sex and relationships

BURNS-O'CONNELL, Georgina (2018). Catholic parents' perceptions of young people's learning about sex and relationships. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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It is widely accepted that sex and relationships education (SRE) is an adversarial subject. Though there is ample evidence of its significance for young people's sexual health and wellbeing, the subject is entrenched in political and cultural conflict and differences of opinion from parents, teachers, governors, religious organisations, and young people. Many Catholics’ beliefs regarding sex differ from those of the Catholic hierarchy. My thesis explores this issue from the perspectives of Catholic parents in England and focusses on their views of young people’s learning about sex and relationships, and how Catholicism has influenced this. Using a qualitative methodology informed by feminist research principles, Catholic parents’ perceptions of SRE were explored using in-depth interviews. A variety of Catholic parents' voices (11 participants) were identified using existing networks and snowballing techniques. The reasoning behind parents' choices and views relating to their children’s learning about sex and relationships was explored using an interpretivist approach. The empirical findings from this study contribute unique insights to understanding Catholic parents' support for young people’s learning about sex and relationships. Subjective factors (for example, the experience of divorce) influenced the way many of the participants thought about, or provided, SRE for their children. Although they had little knowledge of school provision, most supported unbiased, compulsory SRE curricula. Learning about sex and relationships within the family often relied on an opportunistic and open approach, however many of the participants identified their own poor SRE as a barrier to the education they (aimed to) provide for their children. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the findings from this project suggest that Catholicism influenced some of the participant's thinking about SRE. Additionally, this was also evident in those who no longer practiced as a Catholic. Overall, this study brings to light the complexities, contradictions, and subtleties regarding Catholic parents' views on young people’s learning about sex and relationships.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Hirst, Julia [0000-0001-9230-1828]
Additional Information: Director of studies - Julia Hirst
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Louise Beirne
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2018 14:19
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:04

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