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Nóra Hodossi, Cecília Sinka & Adrien Pigniczkiné Rigó: A problem or a Gift? – Elementary School Teachers’ Attitudes Towards Providing Menstrual Information

The current WHO guidelines on sexual health education indicate that providing children with menstrual information is a minimum standard at the age of 6–9 years. However, unfortunately, in many cases those who should provide that – mothers and teachers – feel puzzled and insecure, and thus try to avoid this task as much as they can. The aim of this study was to explore the attitudes of 10 female elementary school teachers from various parts of Hungary towards sharing their knowledge about menstruation with their students aged 6–11. Participants were asked the following questions: Whose responsibility do they think menstrual education is? What level of knowledge, feelings, attitudes and maturity do they attribute to their students? What are their own attitudes towards menstruation? How much of that would they like to share with their pupils? Are these conversations about menstruation actually happening in practice at school? Analysis identified the following common themes: in addition to prior knowledge and attitudes brought from their families, the respondents considered their own role in knowledge transfer to be particularly important, and also mentioned nurses as further key actors. They considered boys to be too immature to grasp menstruation education, even though by that age they would have come across the topic already. They also mentioned that boys' attitudes were probably of key importance as they often embarrassed girls with related comments. Girls' maturity was perceived very differently, as according to some teachers, girls showed a great interest to talk about the emotional aspects of menstruation, while according to the teachers, this was not necessary, and merely a technical assistance was sufficient. Monthly bleeding itself was highlighted by some respondents in virtue of its positive aspects, while others saw it as an unpleasant, humiliating event or a taboo that should only be talked about very carefully and confidentially – or to the contrary: some respondents’ aspirations were aimed at breaking these very taboos. Several respondents emphasized the naturalness of menstruation and the importance of being able to talk about it naturally at school. In practice, according to some respondents, such conversations do not take place at all. In other cases, it takes place face to face with the specific girl concerned or the girls of the class in response to a current situation, and rarely in a pre-planned, organized session. Overall, the attitudes and practices which emerged from the responses of interviewed teachers were very varied. This may partly be due to the fact that the interviewed respondents unanimously reported not having received any guidelines during their teacher training regarding the preparation of their students for puberty and first menstruation.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 120. Number 4. 327-346. (2020)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Hodossi Nóra, Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem Pszichológiai Doktori Iskola. H–1064 Budapest, Izabella u. 46. Sinka Cecília, Károli Gáspár Református Egyetem Pedagógiai Kar. H–2750 Nagykőrös, Hősök tere 5. Pigniczkiné Rigó Adrien, Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem Pszichológiai Intézet. H–1064 Budapest, Izabella u. 46.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia