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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 395-401

A family physician's journey in exploring sexual health perceptions and needs in a boarding school community

Department of Distance Education, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jachin Velavan
Department of Distance Education, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_888_19

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Introduction and Context: Sexual health in schools is neglected in most developing countries,[1] however, it is emerging as a major need of the hour. This article captures the author's experience as a family physician in a boarding school setting in India highlighting the need and possible solutions pertaining to sexual health in the school community. Setting: An international boarding school in India with approximately 600 students, 500 teachers, and administrators who lived on the school campus and 500 support staff who lived off-campus. Materials and Methods: Three events prodded the author to explore perceptions and needs pertaining to sexual health in the school community. Being a difficult area of inquiry, this was done as informal qualitative research by dialoguing with six groups of people in the school community: School counselors, parents, student supervisors such as teachers, advisors and dorm parents, school administrators, support staff, and the students and the responses were collated. Observations: A mere 17.9% of grade 5 to 12 students, of age-groups 10 to 19 never had a conversation with their parents about sexuality. Students were largely ignorant or misinformed on most sexuality-related issues but engaged well when offered anonymity or safe space. Though all stakeholders in the school agreed that students needed an age-appropriate, gender and culture-sensitive, scientific and comprehensive sex education, parental responses were mixed. Conclusion: The author's journey as a family physician in a school setting has prompted exploration of a wholistic model for the provision of comprehensive sexual health in schools and the emerging role of a family physician in schools.

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