Catholic Marriage and Fertility Services adhere to a number of core principles with regard to the development and design of all our programs.
Primarily, all programs are developed in keeping with the four core principles for sexual and reproductive health education as outlined in the “Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality” of by the Pontifical Council of the Family. Those being:
- Each child is unique and should be formed individually.
- The moral dimension should always be included in explanations.
- Formation in chastity and timely information about sexuality must be provided in the broadest possible context of education for love. It cannot be fitted neatly into a single curriculum area.
- Information should be provided clearly and at a time appropriate for the individual child.
Consequently, through our programs, information on sexuality and fertility is given to young people incrementally over a period of time. The ideal situation being that schools will have our staff coming to speak to students in different settings and in different year groups. This way, over time, we can gradually building on a students’ knowledge base and at the same time allow for the diversity of social, emotional and physical development of the young people in any particular classroom.
We discourage full day programs; giving young people “everything they need to know” in one go. Inevitably, some young people will not be ready to hear some of the content, and when presented with information overload, many young people either switch off or forget a lot of the content they receive. This focus is also based on the sound educational principle that a little received regularly will do more for the formation of young people in this area than trying to achieve a lot infrequently.
We ensure that all programs include the moral dimension in explanations and we ensure that sexuality and fertility education is offered in the context of the Church’s teaching about love and the sacrament of marriage.
We ensure that all programs are presented in a way that is designed to connect meaningfully with the individual and their life experience. Scope is provided in our programs for sensitivity to individual needs. This is achieved by including activities and space for students to reflect on and explore the content being provided as it relates to their individual situation.
In recent years, some excellent DVD and online resources have been developed to assist in teachers in providing sexual and reproductive health information. While making the most of these resources our agency discourages an over reliance on these programs. Providing a service that is appropriate to the individual child and sensitive to their unique formation means allowing and encouraging rich dialogue on the content of the presentations; a willingness to answer individual questions and engage in meaningful conversations with students. To assist in this we insist on certain limits to the size of classes as opposed to presenting content to whole year groups.
The agency ensures that all presenting staff have appropriate training in related fields such as education, counselling and nursing. Ongoing professional development in the area of sexual and reproductive health and relationships as well as the Churches moral and ethical teaching as it relates to these areas is a requirement of all staff members.