By: Jillian James
There are two crucial elements to sexual education that are key to its success: not underestimating a student’s ability to comprehend and understand sexual topics and understanding what information they have already been exposed to.
Here are the facts: Students in America are constantly being exposed to sexuality through music, movies, TV, and other media sources. Some of these forms of media may be exposing students to sex and sexuality for the first time.
Meanwhile, some parents nervously avoid talking to their children about sex because they think that the act of talking to their child about sex is an endorsement off the behavior. And even more frightening is the fact some schools still only teach abstinence only education. This mean that students are receiving contradictory information all around them. They being exposed to hyper-sexualized images in the media and then only being taught abstinence only education in the classroom.
Sexual education is most effective when the classroom environment is an open, honest, and engaging one. When teachers and curriculum creators are aware of what their students have already been exposed to and take that into consideration the reality that most students are coming into a sexual education classroom with some sort of background knowledge. Sexual education can debunk the sexual myths and stereotypes that are perpetuated by porn and popular television and music.
Parents must also be willing to be open and honest with their children about sexuality and not create a stigma around sex. An article from TIME magazine compared the parenting styles of the Dutch to the Americans. According to an article, “Dutch parents keep nothing from children. Nothing is taboo. Questions are answered simply and honestly, at the child’s level of understanding and maturity, as they arise.” The article states that the Dutch have one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world while America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in any developed country. This could be because Dutch children are well informed about sex.
We must demand that our sex education curriculum is comprehensive and doesn’t turn a blind eye to what students already know. Parents must also be willing to openly discuss sexuality with their children when they have questions. This will lead to a more educated and better-prepared generation that will develop healthier attitudes about sex and sexuality.