Sex Education

Sex education refers to programs in schools offering information on sexuality and contraception. Some of the programs offer an entire course on human sexuality while others integrate information in other classes. Among the primary goals of such programs are to reduce teenaged pregnancy rates and to lower the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and cases of HIV.

The themes covered by sex education programs in different countries vary and often depend on public opinion of sex and what teenagers should be taught about it. In some traditionally conservative countries, sex education is not offered in schools. Religion and culture are often a barrier to any schooling on safe sex in some countries. With rising rates of HIV infection in some countries, HIV prevention is now one of the main goals of sex education. Some countries also include in their programs discussions on topics such as relationships (both heterosexual and homosexual), sexuality, abortion, gender roles, pregnancy, lifestyle.

In the United States, there are two approaches in sex education programs - abstinence-only, which does not cover any birth-control measures except abstinence, and abstinence-based, which teaches all birth-control methods and emphasizes abstinence. Sex education varies from state to state and local councils may also have different approaches.

Other countries, such as the Netherlands, focus on informing adolescents about safe sex and instilling a sense of responsibility in them. Sex education in Sweden encourages responsibility and respect towards others. Australia's approach to sex education is comprehensive. The French government requires sex education to be provided in all schools and sex education is led by student interest. German sex education also encourages students to be responsible and protect against pregnancy and STDs.

In some Asian countries, sex is not discussed publicly because of cultural, social and religious reasons. There is sexual health education in many countries in the region but it focuses on health and biology, and not sexuality. In sub-Saharan Africa, there are countries where sex education is provided in schools, while there are programs through which young people can get condoms, and others where there is information on AIDS available to young people but no formal education. In countries across the Middle East and North Africa, AIDS prevention is not a priority but governments have started introducing sex education programs in schools as well as different sources of information on AIDS for young people.

More open and liberal approaches to sex education often lead to lower rates of unplanned and teenaged pregnancy, or fewer abortions, in contrast with those regions where the abstinence-only approach to sex education is followed, and where teens are denied information on contraception and STD-prevention.

There is no universal approach to sex education and sexuality because approaches are culture-specific. In order for a sex education program to be effective, it needs to be appropriate for the culture in which it is being taught.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice
J. Mark Halstead; Michael J. Reiss.
RoutledgeFalmer, 2003
Risky Lessons: Sex Education and Social Inequality
Jessica Fields.
Rutgers University Press, 2008
The Practical Problems and Progress of Western Mainstream Sex Education Models
Lei, Yun; Huang, Lin; Liu, Demin.
Studies in Sociology of Science, Vol. 2, No. 1, June 1, 2011
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
From "Dangers-of-Sex" Education to Joyful Sex Education: How Both Liberals and Conservatives Get It Wrong and How Adult Education Can Help Parents Get It Right
Castleman, Michael.
Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 9, Annual 2006
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
When Insiders Become Outsiders: Parental Objections to Public School Sex Education Programs
Brown, Emily J.
Duke Law Journal, Vol. 59, No. 1, October 2009
Sex Education Attitudes and Outcomes among North American Women
Williams, Monnica T.; Bonner, Laura.
Adolescence, Vol. 41, No. 161, Spring 2006
Afraid of Who You Are: No Promo Homo Laws in Public School Sex Education
Hoshall, Leora.
Texas Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 22, No. 2, Spring 2013
Sexuality, Gender and Schooling: Shifting Agendas in Social Learning
Mary Jane Kehily.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Agony Aunts and Absences: An Analysis of a Sex Education Class"
Sex Education in Secondary Schools
Jennifer K. Harrison.
Open University Press, 2000
Adolescents' Preferences for Source of Sex Education
Somers, Cheryl L.; Surmann, Amy T.
Child Study Journal, Vol. 34, No. 1, March 2004
Public or Private Education? Lessons from History
Richard Aldrich.
Woburn Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Birds, Bees, and General Embarrassment: Sex Education in Britain, from Social Purity to Section 28"
Health and Sexuality Education in Schools: The Process of Social Change
Steven P. Ridini.
Bergin & Garvey, 1998
Common Questions about Sexual Health Education
McKay, Alexander.
The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 9, No. 2, Summer 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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