Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice

By J. Mark Halstead; Michael J. Reiss | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

Aims for school sex education

A diversity of aims
While there is a growing academic literature on the aims of sex education (Went 1985; Reiss 1993b; Epstein 2000; Clark 2001), it is still the case that in most guides to sex education, the aims are not analysed. Examination of policy guidelines and the resources used for teaching school sex education suggest that the following main ones are found:
• helping young people to know about such biological topics as growth, puberty and conception
• preventing children from experiencing abuse
• decreasing guilt, embarrassment and anxiety about sexual matters
• encouraging good relationships
• preventing under-age teenagers from engaging in sexual intercourse (abstinence education)
• preventing under-age teenage girls from getting pregnant
• decreasing the incidence of sexually transmitted infections
• helping young people question the role of women and men in society.

These aims are not entirely distinct but there is worth in examining them one-by-one. This chapter will look at the educational and philosophical arguments for these aims and at the extent to which they are compatible.


Helping young people to know about such biological topics as growth, puberty and conception

In many countries there has long been a tradition at both primary schools (typically for 5-11 year olds) and secondary schools (typically for 11-16 year olds) of teaching about such biological topics as growth, puberty and conception. This aim is occasionally denigrated as 'teaching about the plumbing', which we take to mean that sex education should be

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Values in Sex Education: From Principles to Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Part 1 1
  • Chapter 1 - Why Values Are Central to Sex Education 3
  • Chapter 2 - Diversity and Change in Sexual Attitudes and Values 15
  • Chapter 3 - Children's Voices and Children's Values 31
  • Part 2 55
  • Chapter 4 - Liberal Values 57
  • Chapter 5 - Pleasure, Recreation, Health and Well-Being 70
  • Chapter 6 - Religious Values 86
  • Chapter 7 - Family Values 107
  • Chapter 8 - Love 120
  • Part 3 135
  • Chapter 9 - Aims for School Sex Education 137
  • Chapter 10 - Frameworks for School Sex Education 154
  • Part 4 169
  • Chapter 11 - Sex Education in the Primary Phase 171
  • Chapter 12 - Sex Education in the Secondary Phase 188
  • References 205
  • Index 227
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