In the ever-changing reality of our constantly evolving society, teens face an incredible amount of information, pressure, and decisions every single day. From academics to friendships to social media, there’s a tremendous amount to navigate. Some of the most complex and significant choices that teens face revolve around their sexuality, sexual behaviour, and relationships.
At Atwell Centre, we are dedicated to supporting educators, parents, and teens alike in the sharing of accurate information about healthy sexuality and relationships. Below, we’ll explore what quality sexual education looks like and its importance for teens of all backgrounds.
After reading this post, visit our website to learn more about our education branch, S.H.A.R.E. (Sexual Health and Relationship Education).
What Is Sexual Education?
Sexual education provides information about puberty and reproduction, sexual health, contraception, relationships, gender identity and sexual orientation, body image, sexual violence prevention, and more. Ideally, it’s taught by qualified and trained teachers using developmentally appropriate information and approaches that consider the students’ cultural background and characteristics.
The goals of effective sexual education include presenting sexual development as a natural part of human development, providing accurate and comprehensive information, encouraging confidence through skills building, and supporting critical thinking and informed decisions around healthy relationships, sexual health, sex, and sexuality.
Does Sex Education Work?
Yes. In the U.S., where the largest body of research on comprehensive sex education exists, a review of more than 80 studies over three decades demonstrates that comprehensive sex education positively impacts a wide range of outcomes, including: The development of healthy relationships; the prevention of dating, intimate partner violence and child sex abuse; improved social and emotional learning; increased media literacy; and the appreciation of sexual diversity. Similar findings are supported by global research compiled by the United Nations from more than 40 different countries. In Canada, the Sex Information & Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN), which is supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada, also promotes the importance of comprehensive sexual education, supported by evidence from a variety of Canadian studies.
Sex education is most effective when…
- trained professionals teach it
- it begins at an early age and is taught throughout elementary, middle, and high school
- it combines information with skill-building activities
- rooted in evidence-informed, trauma-informed, and anti-racism-informed practices
- it’s culturally aware and adapted to the needs of the community
Why Sexual Education Is Important
Sexual education is critically important for a variety of reasons, some of which are listed below:
- Sexual education helps teens understand their sexual and reproductive health and avoid negative health consequences such as STIs or unplanned pregnancy.
- It helps students build confidence in communicating effectively about their sexuality, sexual health, and sexual behaviour.
- Sex education provides teens with the tools to understand and recognize the fundamentals of healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships.
- It teaches students to respect others’ bodily autonomy and understand consent.
- Sexual education teaches teens to respect and treat others with dignity, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- It can have positive impacts on overall academic achievement.
Sexual Health Education in Hamilton
At Atwell Centre, our S.H.A.R.E. program develops critical thinking skills in today’s youth through the sharing of accurate information around healthy sexual relationships. For more information about S.H.A.R.E., contact us directly today!