Teaching Sexual Health
| But I don't know much about teen sexuality. How do I get started?
What can I do to make this experience easier and more enjoyable?
Why should I talk to my students about sexuality?
Teens learn about sex and sexuality every day. Much of this information comes from the media and peers which is often incorrect or ineffective. When young people are provided with honest and accurate information from their teachers and parents, they can learn to make responsible decisions. Talking to your students about sexuality enables them to grow into sexually healthy adults.
Another key reason to discuss sexuality is that there is clear evidence that Canadian youth are misinformed when it comes to sexual health. Recent Canadian research in the field of sexual health has revealed some alarming facts. The Canadian Council of Ministers of Education coordinated the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study (Boyce et al., 2003). Researchers from Queen's University, Acadia University, Laval University and the University of Alberta surveyed more than eleven thousand teenagers in grades seven, nine and eleven throughout Canada. The study provides a current picture of the sexual behaviour and knowledge of Canadian adolescents. The following findings give cause for concern:
- Canadian teenagers know less about sexually transmitted infections and sexual health than Canadian teenagers did over a decade ago. This is not surprising as the amount of time schools spend educating youth about sexuality has dropped significantly since the late 1980's. This finding is significant as students continue to report school as their main source for sexuality education.
- Approximately 20% of grade nine and 45% of grade eleven students reported having had sexual intercourse at least once. Close to two-thirds (62%) of sexually-active students were 15 years of age or younger when they first had sex.
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Protection:
- By grade eleven, there is a decrease in students' use of condoms during sexual intercourse.
- Canadian youth are not aware of the risks associated with HIV/AIDS. In fact, 76% of seventh graders and 50% of grade nine students believe there is a cure or vaccine for HIV.
Visits to Physicians:
- Fewer than 3% of youth reported visiting doctors for testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.