Sexual education

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Overview

Sexual education is the process by which a person assimilates information, develop their attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships and intimacy.

Sexual education involves young people skills evolution and has an important role in their behavior, confidence and skills that influence these choices.

It is widely accepted advice that young people have the right to sex education. This type of education is important because it represents a mean by which young adults are helped to protect against abuse, exploitation, unwanted pregnancy, STDs and HIV.

It is also argued that providing sex education helps young people meet the right to information about issues that affects them, the right to meet their needs and help them enjoy their sexuality and relationships that they form.


Contents

1. Overview
2. What are the objectives of sex education?
3. Why is sex education required?
4. What skills should develop sex education?
5. Forming attitudes and beliefs
6. What information should be given the young?
7. When should sex education start?
8. Could sex education encourage young people to have sexual intercourse too soon?
9. When should the adults talk to young about sex?
10. Who should provide sex education?


What are the objectives of sex education?

Sexual education is intended to reduce potential negative risks of sexual behavior such as unplanned and unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted infection, including HIV.

It aims to contribute to a positive experience of young people related to their sexuality by improving the quality of their relationships and their ability to make decisions on an informed life.

Sexual education achieves its goal when helping young people to be safe and enjoy their sexuality.


Why is sex education required?

We are sexual beings. Sexuality is an integral part of identity of each person. As people learn more about their sexuality and acquire more knowledge about maintaining sexual health, they will improve their quality of life, from birth to end of life.

Although parents and teachers are the main teachers in sexology for children, they receive messages about sexuality from many sources. Some of them may have negative rather than positive effects. School and other organizations are important partners for parents who need to develop young people a proper sexual education.

The main objectives of sex education aim to help young people to have a positive attitude towards sexuality and give them knowledge and skills so they can make healthy decisions about their sex life in present and future.

Sexual education is an investment in health care and our children’s future. Investment result could be a generation of young people who assimilate more useful information about sexuality and can make the difference between these messages and the messages or provocative images in the media. Other result could be a generation of men and women who are comfortable in their skin, knowledgeable, who can take responsible decisions, which can form healthy relationships and take care of their bodies.


What skills should develop sex education?

For sex education to be effective, must include opportunities for youth skills development, as it can be difficult for them to act only based on information. Their skills developed as part of sex education are more related to the values and general life skills. When a young man is able to communicate, listen, negotiate with others to find and identify sources of help and advice, means that the necessary skills acquired throughout life, which can be applied to sexual relations.

In addition to all these, sexual education develops young people’s ability to make decisions, to be categorical and to listen. Other skills include the ability to recognize significant pressure from other people and to resist them, to face the challenges and asking for help from adults.

Sexual education encourages young people to distinguish between correct and incorrect information and to acquire social and moral values, namely to assimilate perspectives about sex and sexuality, including cultural differences, and sensitive issues such as abortion or contraception.


Forming attitudes and beliefs

Young people can be exposed to a variety of attitudes and beliefs about sex and sexuality. Sometimes, they may be contradictory and confusing. For example, some messages about the risks and maintaining health emphasizes risks and dangers associated with sexual activity, while others promote the idea that sexually active person can be more confident, attractive and mature.

Because sex life and sexuality are sensitive subjects, young people and teachers who teach sex education may have different views on information of a sexual nature, but also related to the moral that should govern human sexual behavior.

Young people might be interested in different cultural and moral contexts of sex and sexuality. They are open to the opportunity to communicate their views about important issues such as abortion, sex before marriage, lesbian and gay relationships, contraception and birth control. It is important to emphasize that if a person’s opinion is different does not mean he is trying to promote a particular view to the detriment of another.

The exploration and understanding of cultural, religious and moral, is that young people can find out what they are agree or disagree. Those who teach sex education have attitudes and beliefs about sex and sexuality and it is important that they do not negatively influence the sex education they offer. A person who believes that young people should not have sex before marriage, should not omit to give young people important information on safe sex and contraception.

Effective sexual education gives young people the opportunity to explore the reasons people have sex, to think about how feelings are involved, partner bodies, the role of self-esteem and feelings of others and which is the importance of decisions about sexual activity. Young people should be able to decide on the positive qualities of the relationship they have and understand that bullying, stereotyping, abuse and exploitation can negatively impact a relationship.


What information should be given the young?

Young people have access to information about sex and sexuality from a variety of sources: media, television, magazines, books, websites, etc. Some of them are or aren’t correct. Providing information through sex education will serve to strengthen the right information. For example, young people could be heard that condoms are not effective against HIV or that there are remedies for AIDS.

It is important to provide enough information that should correct the erroneous beliefs. Information is the underlying attitudes about sex and sexual development. Young people need accurate information about the following topics:

- Sexual and reproductive development – physical and emotional changes during puberty, which means sexual reproduction, including fertilization and conception, but also information about what the STDs and HIV are.
- Contraception and birth control – which are the available contraceptive methods, how they work, how to use them and how they can be obtained.
- Relationships – what kind of relationship exists, love and commitment, marriage and legal partnership and sexual behavior, various religious and cultural views about sex, sexuality and sexual diversity.

Youth should be provided with information about abortion, sexuality and confidence and knowledge of sources of advice and support available in their communities, but also the national level.


When should sex education start?

Sex education should take place before young people reach puberty and before they have developed behavior models. Exact age at which information should be provided depends on the physical, emotional and intellectual development of young people and it also depends on their level of understanding.

Topics transmitted through sex education are important too: how they are shared, who is the person who says sex education, the context in which this is done, the expectations of young people who are making sex education.

It is important to begin sex education at an early age and to be intentionally supported. When young people are provided with basic information right from an early age, will build a foundation of more complex knowledge, which will be consolidated over time.

For example, when the kids are very young, they can be informed about the way people grow and develop over time, of how children develop into adults, and this could be the basis for understanding more detailed information about puberty, the pre-teens years.

Youth must be provided information on viruses and germs that attack the body, which could be the starting point for discussions about infections that can be contacted through sexual contact.


Could sex education encourage young people to have sexual intercourse too soon?

Some people are concerned that providing information about sex and sexuality awakens the curiosity of the children and can lead to the desire to experience sexual activity.

However, some studies proved that such information or education programs don’t encourage sexual intercourse. Some of the young decreased frequency of sexual intercourse and, apparently increased the number of people who use both condoms and other contraceptives. It is important to remember that young people will store the information received to when they need to use it.


When should the adults talk to young about sex?

Sometimes it can be difficult for adults to know when is necessary to share information about sex with their children, but the important thing is to maintain an open relationship with them and give them the opportunity to ask questions when they want to do this . Parents and educators can be proactive and can involve young people in discussions about sex, sexuality and intimate relationships. Of course, many parents and their children feel embarrassed when talking about some aspects of sex and sexuality.

Sex education may be in the form of conversations related to moral values, attitudes and problems (examples from real life, can be helpful). The best way to act is to create a solid relationship the young person may pose a problem if it wants to do so.

The role of parents remains essential, because sex education in schools seems to be predominant, and this may miss some relevant approaches for young people at a time. Therefore, parents can play an important role in providing information and may have the opportunity to discuss specific topics as they appear in the area of interest of their children.


Who should provide sex education?

Sex education can take place in a variety of contexts, both inside and outside of school and may be shared by individuals who have the possibility and responsibility to give young people information about sex.

Parents – At home young people could talk face to face with parents or with those who care for them on specific issues, could ask questions or may request clarification on particular issues. Dialogue can look attitudes and views of parents and youth.

Sex education at home, established by parents, will take place over a long period of time and involves multiple short interactions between parents and children. May be times when young people may be reluctant to communicate, but it is important not to interpret the shyness as a refusal.

It is important not to delay too long to discuss certain topics or problems as this might suggest that a parent is not prepared to talk about them. There is evidence to support the positive role of parent-child communication on condom use and the means of contraception among young people.

Teachers – In school, the interaction between teachers and young people has a different shape: lessons organized. This is not as effective as individual counseling, considering that information provided comes from an unbiased point of view.

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