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Sexuality Education

 
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The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) defines sexuality education as a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs and values.

Who is responsible for teaching our children about sexuality -- parents, educators or religious leaders?

It begins at home with parents and caregivers. Teachable moments occur on a daily basis.

Infants learn about sexuality when their parents care for them, show affection and nurture a sense of trust. Toddlers learn sexuality when parents teach them the names of their body parts. As children, they continue to learn appropriate touching and caring of their genitals.

As children grow into adolescence, parents take the initiative by providing age-appropriate information, being positive role models, fostering open conversations about sex and diversity in sexual orientation, teaching respect and instilling positive attitudes, beliefs and moral values.

Sexuality education continues outside the boundaries of the home. Young people learn about sexuality in schools and faith-based educational programs, from friends, television, movies, music and the internet.

The primary goal of school-based sexuality education should be to help adolescents transition to sexually healthy adults. Ideally, such programs should complement and augment the sexuality education received from families, while respecting the diversity of beliefs and values represented in the community.

Curriculum varies from state to state, among school districts and public versus private schools. A comprehensive sexuality education program includes age-appropriate, medical accurate information on a broad set of topics including human development, relationships, decision-making, abstinence, contraception and disease prevention.

Abstinence-based programs emphasize the benefits of abstinence while teaching about sexual behaviors other than intercourse, contraception and disease prevention. Other programs teach abstinence only or abstinence only until marriage.

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