The perceptions, experiences and meanings rural girls ascribe to menarche - implications for teachers/teacher training

Year: 1995

Author: Dickson, Scott, Wood, Ruth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This case study examines the attitudes and perceptions of a group of Year 6 girls (n=16) towards menstruation. Although modern science has led to a greater understanding of how the female menstruates (which helps to overcome mythologies born of awe, ignorance, fear and superstition) we continually tell girls experiencing menarche how they should feel, rather than asking them how they do feel.

Questionnaires were used to obtain sociodemographic information, level of menstruation knowledge and menstrual stage. Subjects were then interviewed in small groups to allow elaboration upon the questionnaire responses and to discuss other areas of interest in relation to menarche/menstruation.

Only three subjects stated they had received any type of formal education or advice relating to menstruation. Thirteen subjects expressed the need for more class time to be devoted to issues relating to menstruation, with eleven subjects indicating that they would prefer that any lessons on menstruation be conducted without boys being present.

Results indicate that girls approaching the age of menarche have not been adequately prepared to enter one of the most significant periods of their life. While it is acknowledged that the family has a role to play in this preparation, it is obvious that formal education has not dealt with this issue in an effective way. Educators need to re-assess their approach to this type of sexuality education. By implication, in-service and pre-service teacher education needs to be examined, particularly sexuality curricula for teachers in primary education.