What is education in sexual health, or What is Sex Education?
Students who receive quality education have the information and abilities to stay healthy, avoid STIs, unwanted pregnancy, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A good sexual health education programme incorporates content and skills that target important behavioural objectives and encourage healthy sexual development as well as medically correct, developmentally appropriate, and culturally relevant information. The curriculum is level-appropriate and developed to cover information regarding health risk behaviours and experiences at all grade levels.
Numerous qualities are included in high-quality programmes for sexual health education: These services:
- Are instructed by highly skilled and certified instructors and school employees.
- Use methods that are current and interesting to all kids.
- Consider the requirements of all students’ health, including those who identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning).
- Introduce pupils to sexual health and other medical resources at their school or in the neighbourhood.
- Participate in school programmes as parents, families, and community partners
- Encourage healthy interactions between teenagers and significant adults.
How can sexual health education be provided in schools?
The development of practical information and skills required to encourage healthy behaviours and minimise risks is the goal of a school health education programme that incorporates a high-quality sexual health education curriculum. It’s crucial that instruction on sexual health openly emphasise and include skill development. In order to assist students, develop independence, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills and prevent STIs, HIV, and unwanted pregnancy, it is important to give them time to practise, evaluate, and reflect on the skills taught in the curriculum.
Student learning outcomes from good sexual health education programmes include:
- Examine the effects of family, friends, and the media on health
- Access trustworthy and accurate health resources, such as STI and HIV testing.
- Talk to your family, friends, and teachers about matters pertaining to your health.
- Make wise decisions regarding their health based on information.
- To improve one’s health, one must take responsibility for both oneself and others.
What advantages come from teaching pupils about sexual health?
Numerous ways in which promoting and executing well-designed sexual health education benefits student health. Participating in these programmes increases the likelihood that students will:6-11
- Delay starting a sexual relationship
- Lessen your sex partners
- Lessen your exposure to unprotected sex
- Increase the use of condoms as a form of protection
- Enhance the students’ academic achievement.
Quality sexual health education can be tailored to include information on high-risk substance use*, suicide prevention, and how to prevent students from committing or being victims of violence- behaviours and experiences that put youth at risk for poor physical and mental health as well as poor academic outcomes. This is in addition to teaching knowledge and skills to address sexual behaviour.
*Adolescent substance use that carries a high risk of negative consequences, such as injury, engagement with the criminal justice system, dropping out of school, or death, is referred to as high-risk substance use. The use of illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, inhalants, hallucinogens, or ecstasy, as well as prescription drug abuse and injectable drug usage- i.e., substances with a high risk of transmitting blood-borne illnesses like HIV and hepatitis- are included in this.
What does it look like to actually give sexual health education?
Schools need supporting policies, pertinent content, skilled personnel, involved parents, and communities to successfully implement high-quality sexual health education. These four components can be implemented in schools to support sex education.
- Implement laws that encourage situations where people can learn about sexual health.
- Use health information that is scientifically based, developmentally appropriate, medically accurate, and inclusive of all cultures.
- Give staff the information and abilities they need to deliver sexual health instruction.
- Activate parents and neighbourhood allies.
In addition, schools can:
Include enough time in professional development and training for teachers to put what they learnt (critical knowledge and skills) into practise and consider it in light of their instruction in sexual health. It is required by law that all HIV-related educational and informative materials be reviewed by an HIV Materials Review Panel (HIV MRP) if your school district or school is receiving federal funds for HIV prevention. Members of your school health advisory councils are welcome to participate in this review panel because decision-making and material evaluation are strengthened by a pooled expertise.
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