Click on each statement for answers to common myths surrounding sexual health education.
Myths & Facts
Teaching sexuality in school takes it out of being taught at home.
FACT: Various studies have shown that sexuality education programs result in increased parent-child communication about various topics concerning sexuality.
Comprehensive sexuality education leads to increased rates of sexual behaviour in adolescents.
FACT: A World Health Organization literature review concluded that there is “no support for the contention that sex education encourages experimentation or increased activity. If any effect is observed, almost without exception, it is in the direction of postponed initiation of sexual intercourse and/or effective use of contraceptives.”
Students in elementary are too young to need information about sexuality.
FACT: In every subject, students are given a foundation in the early school years that is expanded upon in later years. Children are often curious about issues related to sexuality and need accurate, age-appropriate information. Students in elementary learn about physical, emotional and social changes that occur during puberty, the basic components of the reproductive system, fetal development and risk factors associated with exposure to blood borne diseases.
Comprehensive sexual health education doesn't address abstinence.
FACT: Comprehensive Sexual Health Education stresses abstinence as the preferred sexual behaviour amongst teens. Abstaining from sexual activity that involves exchange of bodily fluids and/or genital to genital or skin to genital contact is the only way to be absolutely sure of avoiding the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Postponement of initial sexual activity until maturity, adherence to one sexual partner and protected sexual intercourse are sequentially offered as the next best alternatives. The programs that have been most effective in helping young people to abstain discuss both abstinence and contraception.
Condoms are not very effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs.
FACT: Repeated studies show that condoms used consistently and correctly offer a high degree of protection against pregnancy and STI/AIDS. The most common cause for failure is improper or inconsistent use. Using a condom is 10,000 times safer than not using a condom at all. That is why including condom instruction in sexuality education is so important.
Kids will pick up what they need to know.
FACT: Kids are constantly picking up sexual messages, many of them ones that do not promote healthy sexuality. Kids will pick up the commercial and exploitative messages that are in the interest of advertisers to promote, and they will pick up misinformation from their uninformed peers. From adults they may pick up the message that there is something wrong about feeling comfortable about sexuality.
If you talk to kids about sex, they will go out and experiment.
FACT: Children who are well informed and comfortable in talking about sexuality with their parents are also the least likely to have intercourse when they are adolescents. It appears that knowledge does not lead to inappropriate behaviour, whereas a lack of information poses greater risks.
We aren't providing any sex education if we don't talk about it.
FACT: Our children learn from us by observing. We become models of how to be healthy adults, have relationships, show affection, and resolve conflict. In these ways, we are the primary sexuality educators of our children. When we avoid talking about sexuality we give our children the message that this topic is not proper to discuss, to learn about, to have questions on. Our silence is as eloquent as our words.
If I don't feel completely comfortable talking to my children about sex, it's better not to say anything at all.
FACT: It is quite common to be uncomfortable in talking about sexuality. However, we should not let this stop us from educating our children. Sexual Health Education must address and acknowledge the diverse needs of all children. It is important for parents to provide comprehensive Sexual Health Education that is both culturally and socially appropriate. Talking about facts rather than values is an effective way to combat apprehension.
In Alberta, I have no control over what my child is taught in the classroom.
FACT: Teachers must inform and obtain consent from parents when the Alberta human sexuality curriculum is to be taught. Parents have the right to exclude their child; and teachers must provide an alternative activity.