Both boys and girls should be taught about periods in school to try to end the stigma surrounding menstruation, a charity has said.
Girls’ rights charity, Plan International UK, issued the advice because they believe not talking about periods can be hugely damaging.
The charity carried out a survey of 1,000 girls aged between 14 and 21 and found that more than a quarter of girls don’t know what to do when they start their period, while nearly half are embarrassed by them.
The findings seem to highlight that period stigma is having an impact on girls’ day-to-day lives with many feeling the need to make up excuses during their time of the month.
Almost half (49%) of the girls surveyed said they had missed an entire day of school because of their period, and of that number 59% have made up a lie or an excuse about it.
What’s more, a whopping 82 per cent of girls admitted they have hidden or concealed their sanitary products, while nearly three quarters said they felt embarrassed even buying them.
And while girls might feel OK talking about periods with their female friends, the survey revealed that only 24% of girls feel comfortable discussing their time of the month with their male friends.
The charity believes one solution to reducing period stigma could be to ensure boys are also taught about menstruation in school.
“I think there is a stigma and taboo around periods,” said Kerry Smith, head of girls’ rights at Plan International UK. “Girls and boys aren’t being told about periods enough.”
“We do think boys and girls should be taught together and boys have told us they don’t think it’s right they don’t know anything about menstruation,” she continues.
The charity believes that the embarrassed silence surrounding periods could be damaging and wants both sexes to learn more about periods throughout their secondary education.
Commenting on the suggestion, a spokesperson for the Department of Education in England told BBC: “Schools can already teach about menstruation through an inclusive sex and relationships education programme – it is also part of the national curriculum for science.”
“Schools are free to tailor lessons to suit the needs of their pupils, drawing on resources from expert organisations to ensure pupils are taught about menstruation and to support girls to feel positive about their bodies.”
Plan International UK is also calling for periods to be normalised with the launch of their #weallbleed campaign, aimed at breaking down period taboos.
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