Sexuality Education of Adolescents
Sexuality education is a structured information presented for children, adolescents, and young people in order to establish the right attitudes towards issues of gender. It is a wide area answering questions related to the body, sexuality and sexual relationships, the behavior of boys and girls, men and women, their relationships and rights. The goal of sexuality education is to create a responsible man from a boy, and a happy and successful woman from a girl. Over the last decade, views on sexuality education became very controversial. Many agree on the need to develop the right attitude about sexuality in children. However, they all have different opinion about what should be taught, where and who should do it. The problem of sexuality education is one of the most urgent issues in the current society, which will establish the directions for upbringing and educational work.
Sexuality Education of Preschool Children
Conditionally, the process of sex education can be divided into several stages. Parents should inculcate basic hygiene practices and rules of conduct in preschool children. When caring for preschool children, parents should eliminate the annoying effects on the erogenous zones and avoid uncomfortable, tight clothing. It is important to ensure a healthy atmosphere in the family imbued with mutual respect and love. At preschool age, children develop a sense of belonging to a particular sex and, as a result, the natural process of learning about the world is gradually formed. They begin to show interest in the matters of sex. It is reflected in many questions that children ask their parents. The children’s questions about the secret of their birth should be answered simply and affordably, without going into details and without resorting to fiction and fairy tales. At the same time, when parents refuse to answer these questions, it usually only warms the child’s interest in the subject. In the process of educating children of primary school age about sexuality, parents should take into account physiological and psychological characteristics. For normal sexual development and the establishment of the proper relations between boys and girls, it is important to develop such moral qualities as modesty, humility and willingness to help (Shtarkshall, Santelli, & Hirsch, 2007).
Sexuality Education of Adolescents
The essence of sex education leads to the preparation of adolescents for an adult life of healthy men and women. They should understand their physical and psychological characteristics, establish normal relationships with the opposite sex in all areas of life and realize their needs in accordance with the existing social moral and ethical standards. Ultimately, it means educating emotionally mature persons. The main tools of education about sexuality are an integral part of the complete educational process. They are implemented in various forms of communication and collaboration. Human behavior depends on specific situations. Consequently, flexible psychological mechanisms that govern human behaviors should be explored and promoted. As a result, a direct contact with the opposite sex will not cause unnecessary suffering and will be clear and natural (Haglund & Fehring, 2010).
According to Kristin Haglund and Richard Fehring (2010), the main directions for sexuality education are:
- Education about sexuality should help to form psychological masculinity (femininity). This education should teach students how to properly communicate with peers of the opposite sex.
- Sexuality education should be aimed at optimizing the formation of sexual orientation and consciousness.
- It should prepare for the responsibility of marriage.
- The education should also prepare for conscious and responsible parenthood, development of optimal reproductive directions.
- Sexuality education should form a healthy lifestyle through explanation of how sexuality, marriage, parenthood may be affected by sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and drug addiction.
- It should prevent violations of psychosexual development.
- It also should address prevention of rape and abuse of children and adolescents (Haglund & Fehring, 2010).
The basic principles of sexuality education are provided in the article called “Sex Education and Sexual Socialization: Roles for Educators and Parents.” According to the authors of the article, the main principle is the principle of purpose or correlation of goals of sexuality education with the phases of psychosexual development of children (Shtarkshall, Santelli, & Hirsch, 2007). Education about sexuality largely depends on the desire of the child to self-education. The next principle is support for positive examples of behavior from authoritative adults. The psychological basis for such behavior creates a positive emotional reinforcement that positively motivates children. The next principle is unexcited sexual desire. In other words, sexual life should not be started until complete physical maturity. According to the authors, both pedagogical and medical arguments indicate in favor of this thesis (Shtarkshall, Santelli, & Hirsch, 2007). The less energy is concentrated on the sexual desires and sexual life, the more it will be aimed at the development and strengthening of the whole body, including skeletal, muscles, brain and related functions of the nervous system. The principle of unexcited sexual desire is associated with the requirement of sublimation (Shtarkshall, Santelli, & Hirsch, 2007).
The largest amount of time of a child’s development is spent in adolescence, from ten to twenty years. At the age of 12-15 years, there is an actual period of puberty. The age of 16-24 years is a period of the formation of sexuality (McCarthy & Grodsky, 2011). In 1974, international experts at the WHO meeting identified adolescence as a period during which sexual development proceeds from the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics until full puberty (McCarthy & Grodsky, 2011). Psychological processes peculiar to children are replaced by behaviors of adults. There is a transition from full social and economic dependence on caregivers to relative independence (McCarthy & Grodsky, 2011).
In many countries, sexuality education complements and corrects family education. It is advisable to begin education since a preschool period. Teenagers are at a stage when their interest in the opposite sex creates a very strong motivation to learn. In no other period of human life but teenage years, a person seeks to gain more information about sexual life. The authors Bill McCarthy and Eric Grodsky (2011) believe that in the process of education, children 7-11 years of age should be aware of the onset of puberty and the expected changes in the body. Children of this age need to know the biological function of the reproductive organs and have an idea about childbirth. Children should be aware of a change in the emotional (mood swings or possible strengthening of conflicts in relationships with people) and social spheres. As the child reaches puberty, he/she gains a different status. Children receive some autonomy from adults (McCarthy & Grodsky, 2011).
Teens of 11-14 years old must be aware of the existence of various forms of sexuality, and the biological and sexual factors affecting sexuality. Teens in this age group need to know about sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS and safe sex. Teens should be aware of the responsibility for their choices. Teens of 14-16 years old must know the biological aspects of reproduction. They need to know the advantages and disadvantages of family planning and have an idea about different means of contraception and ways to use them. Teenagers should learn to discuss controversial issues about relationships (McCarthy & Grodsky, 2011).
When educating young people, positive aspects of marriage and sexual relationships, as well as the risks and problems associated with them should be balanced. At the same time, parents must not fear the first sexual experiences in adolescents. Young people should have the right to make mistakes. Despite the good sex education, there will always be a threat of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Speaking exclusively about the negative aspects of sexual relations, adults will not be able to promote the improving sexual health of future generations. The only way is to give comprehensive information balancing the potential benefits and risks (McCarthy & Grodsky, 2011).
Peculiarities of Sexual Behavior among Adolescents
During the last century, sexual maturity and sexual activity are observed at an increasingly early age. The works of many prominent psychologists, sociologists, and sexologists support this fact. In the paper “Recent Evaluations of the Peer-Led Approach in Adolescent Sexual Health Education,” Caron Kim and Caroline Free consider in details the trends of sexual behavior among adolescents. A review of studies conducted in many countries around the world and devoted to the study of boys’ and girls’ behavior showed that the proportion of young people who become sexually active increased over the past three decades. In addition, the younger children each year have first sexual experience. There is evidence that early sexual contacts are accompanied with an increased number of sexual partners. Consequently, it increases the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases. “In developing countries, approximately 60% of new HIV infections occur among 15-24 years old and a similar proportion of pregnancies and births to adolescents are unintended” (Kim & Free, 2008, p. 89).
Sex education is a part of the overall education of the person. The problem of sexuality education is one of the most urgent issues to be considered as main directions for upbringing and educational work. The specificity of the process of socialization of a child allows considering the beginning of sex education in the preschool years. However, education should continue at other stages of child development. The role of sex education increases when a child reaches adolescence, period when the child reaches puberty. At this stage, the objectives of sexuality education include the correct response to the behaviors and physiological changes.