Why Sexuality Education Is Important
Although many people claim that knowledge about sexuality may be harmful, studies have found that it is the lack of sexuality education, ignorance about sexual issues, or unresolved curiosity that is harmful (S. Gordon, 1986). Students who participate in comprehensive sexuality education programs are less permissive about premarital sex than students who do not take these courses. Accurate knowledge about sex may also lead to a more positive self-image and self-acceptance. Sexuality affects almost all aspects of human behavior and relationships with other persons. Therefore, if we understand and accept our own sexuality and the sexuality of others, we will have more satisfying relationships. Some experts believe that not talking to children about sex prior to adolescence is a primary cause of sexual problems later in life (Calderone, 1983).
Another reason to support sexuality education is that children receive a lot of information about sex through the media, and much of it is not based on fact. The media and peers are often primary sources of information about sexuality. Sex is present in the songs children listen to, the magazines they read, the shows they watch on television, and on the Internet. Although it is true that there are a growing number of educational sites on the Internet dedicated to sexuality education (Goldman & Bradley, 2001), there are also many poor sources of information on the web.
Proponents of sexuality education believe that sexual learning occurs even when there are no formalized sexuality education programs. When teachers or parents avoid children’s questions or appear embarrassed or evasive, they reinforce children’s ideas that sex is secret, mysterious, and bad (Milton et al., 2001). Sexuality education does not push teenagers to engage in sexual behavior earlier, nor does it increase the frequency of sexual behavior or number of sexual partners (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, 2001).
As adolescents approach puberty, they may feel anxious about their bodily changes or their relationships with other people. Many teenagers feel uncomfortable asking ques-
SEX in Real Life