Sex education is instruction on issues relating to human sexuality, including human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, sexual abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns. Many parents are concerned about the sex and relationships education their children are receiving at school. Our role in a child’s education about sex education is important. The teaching of these subjects in school is designed to complement the discussions we have with our children at home.
Before talking to any child, think about your own views on sex and what matters to you in your relationships and family life. Work out your own values and morals so that you can give your child clear, consistent messages about sex and relationships throughout childhood. Sex education is most effective when it’s built up gradually over a number of years. Don’t ignore the subject altogether – you don’t want your child to grow up being confused about sex and relationships.
Many educators feel anxious or tentative in tackling the topics of sex, sexuality, and sexual health. They may feel overwhelmed about where to start or confused about what to teach and when to teach it.
SUPPORT FOR SEX EDUCATION TO BE COMPREHENSIVE
Sexuality is an integral part of each person’s identity. Learning about our sexuality and achieving sexual health and well-being are lifelong processes that begin at birth and continue throughout our lives. Although parents and guardians are the primary sex educators of their children, children also receive messages about sexuality from many other sources. Some of them may have more negative than positive impact. Schools and other community-based organizations can be important partners with parents to provide young people accurate and developmentally appropriate sex education.
The goals of comprehensive sex education are to help young people gain a positive view of sexuality and to provide them with developmentally appropriate knowledge and skills so that they can make healthy decisions about their sex lives now and in the future. Medically accurate sex education is an investment in our children’s future — their well-being. Our “return on investment” could be a generation of young people who have heard more helpful messages about sexuality than the provocative media images and/or silences they currently witness. It could be a generation of women and men comfortable in their own skin; able to make well-informed, responsible decisions; form healthy relationships; and take care of their bodies.
One approach to sex education is to view it as necessary to reduce the risk of certain sexual behaviors and equip individuals to make informed decisions about their personal sexual activity.
Another viewpoint on sex education, historically inspired by sexologists like Wilhelm Reich and psychologists like Sigmund Freud and James W. Prescott, holds that what is at stake in sex education is control over the body and liberation from social control. Proponents of this view tend to see the political question as whether society or the individual should teach sexual mores. Sexual education may thus be seen as providing individuals with the knowledge necessary to liberate themselves from socially organized sexual oppression and to make up their own minds
Recent polls by various media, health, and social organizations have concluded that most families support the idea of sex education being comprehensive in schools to some extent. Although there are still pockets of parents who adamantly reject the idea that schools teach their children anything about sex, there is generally little debate that some form of sex education should be taught — even if abstinence-only.
- Tupper, Kenneth (2013). “Sex, Drugs and the Honour Roll: The Perennial Challenges of Addressing Moral Purity Issues in Schools”. Critical Public Health 24 (2): 115–131. doi:10.1080/09581596.2013.862517.
- · “Namibia National Policy on HIV/AIDS for the Education Sector” (PDF). USAID Health Policy Initiative. 2003. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 8, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- · Piya Sorcar (December 1, 2010). “A New Approach to Global HIV/AIDS Education”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- SIECUS Report of Public Support of Sexuality Education (2009)SIECUS Report Online at the Wayback Machine