Rules at school, a taboo that disrupts the education of young girls

2023-10-12 03:49:09

Menstruation is perceived negatively by young girls. However, solutions exist to normalize their perception.

«A school not enough friendly rules. » This is what the association “Elementary Rules” points out, which publishes a survey on the perception of menstruation by 1001 young girls aged 11 to 18, interviewed by Opinion Way*. For 4 out of 5 girls, having their period is stressful. And although three quarters of girls say they received information about periods during their schooling, mainly during SVT classes, the negative presentation of this natural event persists and the fact of having periods is not yet sufficiently normalized.

73% of young girls surveyed have a negative perception of their first period, which manifests itself in anxiety, fear or disgust. “ The sentiment is negative because there probably isn’t enough information that normalizes the topic. We don’t reassure them. Sometimes young girls are the butt of jokes, which causes anxiety », Explains Justine Okolodkoff, director of advocacy and awareness for the Règles Élementaires association.

The perception of periods as something dirty persists in our society, reinforcing the overall taboo, although it is a natural process.

Justine Okolodkoff, director of advocacy and awareness for the Elementary Rules association.

Justine Okolodkoff reports that “ The perception of periods as something dirty persists in our society, reinforcing the taboo overall, although this is a natural process. The girls then turn to harmful pseudoscientific communications “. Some girls do not dare talk about their periods, and watch videos on social networks which sometimes convey negative images.

According to this report, the first period appears at an average age of 12 years and 2 months (girls are then generally in middle school, in 6th or 5th grade). However, for 20% of young girls, their first menstruation occurs in primary school, and for 2% of them in high school. The first source of information is the mother for 85% of young girls, far ahead of friends, other family members and the school.

» READ ALSO – Heavy periods: what they can hide

Rules and school absences

Two thirds of girls report having missed school because of their periods, often several times a year. The young girls justify these absences by pain, or the fact of having a sports class. What’s more, a quarter of them believe that these absences slow down their academic progress.

« It’s not easy to get out of class to change periodic protection, some girls refrain from going to the toilet for fear of the stain that could be visible, they prefer to stay seated. This interferes with concentration in class by generating more fatigue », reports Justine Okolodkoff. She adds that available and free menstrual protection is generally not very accessible in schools, since only 36% of girls report having access to free periodic protection within their school, and only 10% have access to it often. “ Protection dispensers in establishment toilets are a good basis “, making them more accessible than in the infirmary, explains Justine Okolodkoff

» READ ALSO – Black or brown periods: should you be worried?

Education in establishments

Justine Okolodkoff specifies that “the overall environment, the actions carried out by the school have an impact on young people’s perception of the rules “. However, the educational community is taking up the subject, since three quarters of girls say they have had information about periods during their schooling, mainly in SVT classes. Despite this, menstruation continues to have a negative perception.

«Sciences (SVT) play a role in explaining the physiology, but the subject should be approached differently by integrating psychological and social elements », suggests Justine Okolodkoff. She adds that “the use of associations and health professionals in schools shows good results, particularly on the psychosocial aspect. Boys and girls must be involved in discussions about periods. Menstrual education must be integrated with education for emotional life and sexual life.»

*Sample of 1001 menstruating girls aged 11 to 18, interviewed by online questionnaire from March 27 to April 4, 2023.

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