Sex

Teenage Sex Education: Sexual Ed In the Real World

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For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we’re asking teenagers experts on sex education to help teens make wise decisions.

The subject of preventing sexual assault remains controversial due to the stigma associated with the idea of teaching children about sexual assault.

For instance, when Virginia was able to pass the bill this year, which required the teaching of consent to students in high schools, Many were dismayed that the state Senate did not approve the section of the bill that required sexual education classes that cover domestic and sexual violence.

Yet, a lot of the prevention work involves education.

M.A. Sullivan has been an educator in sexual health at UVA and in local schools for more than 30 years. We had a conversation with Sullivan and 4th-year UVA medical student Brian Wakefield at the UVA Teen and Young Adult Health Center to learn about the dangers and issues that today’s teens in high and middle school have to face when it comes down to establishing healthy sexual habits and behaviors.

TEENAGE SEX Education: Too Little and too late.

It is not surprising, considering the long-standing stigmas associated with sex education, Sullivan believes that the current curriculum offered at schools is not adequate.

“People have no idea how little is done and how poorly it’s done,” she declares. “If an academic class (for which there’s SOL testing) is made into the health or family education and the lack of depth and accuracy is unacceptable. While in school, I often rectify mistakes and provide outdated or incorrect information. This isn’t deliberate; it is simply a testimony to the absence of education and training for the people who are responsible for instruction.”

The fear of discussing sexual relations in any way can suggest that parents and educators and parents, who may feel uncomfortable discussing the subject and pain, should avoid discussing it in real-world terms.

Sullivan mentions that some children get sexually active at a later time than the majority of adults wish to acknowledge.”I’ve witnessed numerous young women who were pregnant in middle school in the past. The assumption was always that they were sexually involved with someone older than them or used their sexuality. However, there is a lot of sexual experimentation among 12-year-olds and their consequences. consequences.

“Kids and Porn”

The gap in the sexual education children receive and the activities kids engage in leads them to look for information on the internet.

 

“I’ve heard 6th-grade boys say they’re addicted to online porn,” Sullivan says. “They aren’t able to find a better place to go to study sexuality. I am concerned about where they are in developing their brains and how they perceive the information they see. Even if they are in college or high school, They may be processing the information they are seeing, and this could affect their ability to maintain healthy relationships.”

 

Pornography, also known as pornography, influences children’s perceptions and behaviors and, often happens before any teacher, adult, or parent offers any advice or point of view.

 

There are times when Sullivan has seen children feeling confused. She talks about boys in 8th grade, for example, who had heard of gender-based harassment but hadn’t been taught about it in terms they could comprehend.

 

“They struggled to understand the reasons why certain actions could be unsuitable. I needed to clarify that we do not have any idea, when you put one’s hands upon someone, how they might feel or what emotions your actions could cause. We are a bit for this.”

 

Ignorance is Dangerous

Another result comes from this information gap. Children don’t know how to safeguard themselves. “There’s one clinical setting, and there’s also what you learn on the internet, and there’s it’s not much in between. Therefore, in the actual situation, if you’re at a club and you leave with a guy who doesn’t know what to do with things. And how to put things in,” Brian points out using the term condoms as well as other safety measures relating to sexual activity.

 

Self-Esteem for LGBTQ Youth

The inability to educate and the inclination to porn does not just harm homosexual children. “We don’t teach the queer kids,” Brian states. “And since they’re not taught by someone they look up to and respect, they go to the internet and go to pornography, and men make straight, heterosexual pornography for men. It’s derogatory.”

 

LGBTQ children don’t just receive the most distorted interpretation of sexual encounters; however, their self-esteem and the perception of their identity may be affected, too.

 

Sexual Agency

Furthermore, because “porn tends not to deal with the pleasure of women, females don’t know what they can do to defend themselves sexually. This isn’t being taught, and it’s certainly not being modeled; when they watch heterosexual pornography, they’re hoping to be bullied, anticipating their desires not to be fulfilled, and expecting to be degraded.”

 

For Sullivan and Brian, if sex education does not teach sexual agency, which is the capacity of males or females to understand and speak up for what they desire or require -and “then it’s not teaching to recognize when their agency is being abused or forced. You’re not teaching them to tell when an assault is taking place if they’ve been trained to believe that ‘oh, I’m supposed to sit down and let it happen simply.'”

 

Messages to Boys and Girls Conflict

Sullivan shares the story after story of children receiving different messages about sexuality according to gender.

 

“If there’s a linear relationship, there’s one of the young men who’s been taught that to be male, you have to be able to have sex with as many people as you can, and if someone is having sex with you, then she’s a’slut. It’s crazy. Girls are instructed that they shouldn’t wear inappropriate attire or consume alcohol. Of course, it’s not a good idea to consume alcohol on a binge. However, in this case, this means that you blame the victim.”

 

This can lead to what Sullivan describes as “slut-shaming.” She finds this method of practice everywhere. “It’s the preferred method of instruction that is preferred by PE and health teachers for young girls. If you’re a sex-loving woman, then you’re a’slut.'”

 

The message also affects self-esteem and sends girls and boys different messages, which tend to reinforce gender stereotypes and power imbalances. The social dynamic that results and sometimes even favors violence and violence.

 

STEPS YOU CAN TAKE

You may be a parent, teacher, guardian, or even a friend of a teenager. You can take action to empower children.

 

Talk About Sex

Sullivan and Brian admit that speaking to youngsters about sexuality may feel awkward for young people and adults.

 

But, Sullivan says, the discussions need to take place.

 

“If you can’t just have a practical, matter-of-fact conversation – and this is what I talk to kids about in middle and high school – then you don’t model how to have a conversation with a potential partner.” An open dialogue about sexual relations can empower kids and enable them to manage sexual relations in mature and healthy ways.

 

Discuss & Model Healthy Boundaries

A crucial aspect of this discussion is addressing the boundaries.

 

“Whether talking about a sex offender or a kid in class who keeps touching you, you can make it clear that if somebody touches you or says something to you that makes you feel uncomfortable, you own yourself,” Sullivan clarifies.

 

The actions speak louder than the words, but. “I think we as parents and adults need to model respecting our children’s boundaries,” says Sullivan. “We impose our power on them, and they can’t say no back, and then we expect them to negotiate that, after what we’ve modeled for them?”

 

Brian states that creating trust with a child is crucial. If we want our children to speak out about unintentional pregnancies, abuse, or STIs and we’re not “modeling the openness of a child, then there’s no way for them to be able to do it. If I’m spying on them and infringing on their privacy, this is another barrier they’ll build.”

 

Get Kids to Engage

Sullivan’s approach to working with children doesn’t follow a formula of giving a list of rules. Instead, she believes it is better to push children to think up their ideas about the choices they would like to make.

 

“I have my children think of reasons for why the delay in sexual activities is a good idea. I ask them what possible effects, both physical and emotional, could result from sexual activities? They are also encouraged to come up with their ideas for why they may choose to put off waiting.” This strategy allows children to be in control of their choices. Choices. Don’t Engage in ‘The Conversation’ Only Once

Sullivan urges parents and educators to think of the conversations around sexuality as taking place over time, not in one event.

 

She tells me, “I have parents who are always in touch with me every day to talk about the time they’ve answered a question incorrectly and committed mistakes. I respond, “That’s the best thing about being an adult: you get many opportunities to do over. Always. We often make mistakes. It’s impossible to fix everything in one single conversation that doesn’t go the way you expected the conversation to.’ “

 

That’s fine.

 

“They absorb data at their speed because their brains can comprehend and interpret the information. It’s the reason it can feel like they’re asking the same questions repeatedly.”

CarleneVolk

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