Man2Man: An Investigation Into Boys’ and Fathers’ Views of the Father’s Role in Education About Sex and Relationships

Fathers may need support if they are to become more involved in their sons’ education about sex and relationships. Man2Man, a small study of boys and fathers carried out by the charity Working with Men has revealed a lack of fathers’ involvement in home sex education.

Most dads in the sample were concerned about their boys’ safety and emotional health. In reality, a low actual involvement suggests a possible lack of the confidence, skills and resources needed to approach the subject successfully. The charity suggests developing basic materials targeted at fathers could help them define their role and better understand boys’ concerns.

The boys interviewed, aged between 11 and 15, had all received sex and relationship education (SRE) in school. But despite supporting school SRE, few fathers knew what was discussed in the lessons and were unaware of gaps in their sons’ knowledge.

Although, in principle dad is thought to be the best person to talk to about sex, in practice most boys are not sure that either parent is confident or knowledgeable enough. Some boys seek emotional support from mum, but not specifically in SRE issues.

Three quarters of the boys favoured a visitor to deliver SRE instead of their class teacher, with 60% of them preferring this person to be male. Both dads and male visitors are considered by the boys to be able to offer insight into “men’s experiences”, leading to the conclusion that single sex provision of SRE in schools may be a more effective way to teach the subject.

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