Conversations around sex education for children/teens can be intimidating and maybe even downright frightening as a parent. Especially since there is a lot of misinformation out there about comprehensive sex education specifically, making it harder to know what may or may not be true. This can, and does, add to that fright or uneasiness being felt. Which is where I come in, providing the information on comprehensive sex education needed for you to gain a better understanding. My hope for this blog is that by gaining some understanding, some fears and hesitations will be eliminated. Also, I am hopeful this may empower parents to begin to have some of these conversations with their children.

So, what is comprehensive sex education?

Well, it is an approach to sex education that aims to provide children/teens with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that they will need to determine and enjoy their sexuality. This includes learning about sexuality in a physical and an emotional way, learning what this means on an individual level and what it means in relationships. Comprehensive sex education (CSE) is seen as a holistic, or all encompassing, view on sex and sexuality that encompasses the child/teens emotional and social development.

Ok, so what does that mean?

I know that was somewhat technical and a bit wordy, but also necessary to lay the baseline for what CSE is all about. In short, it covers all the anatomy and physiology of sex and then goes beyond. The beyond includes the emotional aspects that sex and decisions about sex can carry. Providing children/teens the information on the topic, so when they encounter a sexual experience, whether it be a good or bad one, they will have the skills to handle the situation. This approach also recognizes, and accepts, all people as sexual beings and it is concerned with more than just the prevention of disease or pregnancy.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! You want to teach my kindergartener about how to handle a sexual situation?!

No, I don’t. And neither does CSE. Whew!

But it’s easy to see where this misconception may be coming from, as my last paragraph did say something that could be interpreted that way. What is important to know at this point about CSE is that it is set as a curriculum that is incremental starting at the early age level with foundational content and skills that is built upon year after year as the child progresses through school. Meaning that CSE is age-appropriate and that it must accommodate any developmental delays of students, maintaining an appropriate level for them as well. So, what CSE wants to teach our elementary students is body autonomy, or how to know when they don’t like something that is happening to their body, and how to speak up about that situation.

Alright, I’m getting it a bit more, but what is covered by CSE then?

One of the first things to know about the specific topics covered by CSE is that they are all scientifically accurate, based on research and facts. And be reminded again that it is on an incremental curriculum, so everything taught will be age appropriate. First, topics covered about sexual and reproductive health challenges in this curriculum include, but are not limited to:

  • sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology,
  • puberty and menstruation,
  • reproduction, contraception, pregnancy, and childbirth,
  • STIs, including HIV and AIDS

Check out the list below outlining the topics that CSE will address including and not limited to; psychological and emotional challenges, social and cultural context, all while enhancing communication, investigative and life skills.

  • sexuality,
  • human rights,
  • healthy family life and interpersonal relationships,
  • personal and shared values,
  • cultural and social norms,
  • gender equality,
  • non-discrimination,
  • sexual behavior,
  • gender-based and other violence,
  • consent,
  • sexual abuse and other harmful practices such as child, early, and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting
Wow that was a lot of info!

Yes. Yes, it was, but I hope this has helped you gain a better understanding of what CSE is and what it has to offer to our children/teens. Not only will it help them grow personally and learn how to handle interpersonal relationships, it can improve their confidence and self-esteem. A side effect from all of this may be that the info they learn rubs off on you as the parent! (It’s always cool when we learn from our kids/teens) I will leave you with one final thought; our children/teens need to be given the opportunity to acquire essential life skills and develop positive attitudes and values. The CSE curriculum recognizes this and knows that information alone is not enough.