Monday, August 1, 2016

Why Sexual Education Is Necessary To Primary Prevention

Sexual Education Should Be Mandatory

Sexual education of children is essential to the prevention of sexual abuse, before it can happen. This also applies to sexual assault. I believe that sexual education should be required of all children in every country in an age-appropriate format. But I am sure that saying that much may have shocked you, and you may wonder what the reasons I have are.

Say What?

Let us begin with defining what sexual education means. Sexual education is the educating of children about the topics and mechanics involved in sex and sexuality, but that is not all that it is. Sexual education means teaching children about safe sex practices, about consent, and about sexual boundaries. It also means teaching children that if they are having an issue of a sexual nature, they can get help for it.

Let me expand what I mean by that. If a child has been the victim of sexual abuse or assault, it means that the child hears they can get help and they can tell someone. They may not even realize that what was done to them was abusive. If a child has sexual thoughts towards someone else that they would like to act out, but have no idea how to go about that, they might seek help if they know they can. Some have no idea that is even an option.

It also means that if someone is wrestling with pedophilia, or a sexual attraction to children, they hear the message that there is help and they do not have to face it alone. You see, sexual education does not just mean teaching children about sex. Facing reality, they will find out about sex eventually. As rational human beings, we would prefer that they do not find out by watching pornography and getting an unrealistic idea of what sex is. Right?

Guidance Versus No Guidance

So… what happens when a child starts having sexual feelings, but they have no guidance for them? We know that there is age-appropriate and age-inappropriate sexual behavior, and we know that it is possible for children to sexually abuse other children. In the absence of knowing what to do with sexual feelings, or unwanted sexual advances, or sexual issues and struggles, they will do what children often do: Experiment. Sometimes, that experimentation is expected and does not harm other children. But sometimes, the other child is traumatized by such experimentation.

It is obviously beneficial for children to have guidance so that they learn what is and is not socially acceptable, and so that they can avoid harming someone else. Sexual education is essential to preventing child sexual abuse for that reason.

Everyone Makes It Political

Sexual education is a political topic for many, because there are differing approaches to sexual education. Some want abstinence education, or trying to teach children that they should abstain from sex before marriage. Some want comprehensive sexual education, or teaching children everything from the mechanics, boundaries, and expectations around sex to the physical health aspects of the risk of STD’s, AIDS/HIV, and safe sex. Others want to teach children about LGBTQ issues, so that children who have attractions to their same sex have resources to utilize, support groups to go to, or someplace to go to know they are not alone.

Let me cut through the political messes on this issue and ask you a simple question… If sexual education is not taught in school, and you are a parent, are you willing to honestly answer every question your child has about sex? Are you capable of having that conversation in a professional, calm atmosphere, without freaking out because it is your child asking the questions? Do you have what it takes to ensure that your child does not walk away with the message that sex is inherently wrong or evil?

I ask that because many parents struggle with how to have those conversations, because of how emotionally involved they are and because they may not know what to say or how to teach their children what they need to know about sex. They may have no idea what their child even needs to know about sex, or why they need to know it. Sexual education should not be a political issue. Part of being human for the vast majority of humanity is having sexual feelings, just as the vast majority of humanity needs a job, shelter, food, clothing, etc. We teach children about these things, but we sometimes expect them to just figure the sex aspect out on their own.

That is a dangerous expectation for reasons I have already outlined. It is also possible for children to commit crimes because they do not know that what they did is a crime. Sexual education can teach children not only the parts about sex that make us squirm, it can teach them ethics of how to behave so that they do not harm others, or themselves, through sexual behavior.

Putting Facts First

Rather than making the issue political, we should go where the facts go. Are there studies that look at which kinds of sexual education are more effective at teaching body safety? Are there studies that look at the sexual behaviors of children with differing kinds of sexual education? Are the results of some forms of education more advantageous compared to others? These are the kinds of questions we should be asking, for the sake of our children. I am not going to propose studies or link you to any. Go Google it. Go find out the information. Explore the topic.

I have no idea what political background you, dear reader, may be coming from. But let me explain mine: My father is a republican, and my mother does not care about politics. We never discussed politics much in our house. I formed my own ideas. I am neither a democrat or a republican. There are issues that I find to be important, and I vote on those issues and choose the candidate I prefer based on that. I do not believe it is rational or sane to stick to a particular political platform. I suppose it is possible I just insulted someone, but my point is that sticking to a particular ideology is fallacious because it can all too easily lead us to conclusions that are not based on facts.

On issues involving crime, when we form ideas based solely on ideology and not on the facts of varying approaches, we can enable more crime to happen through negligence. That is not in anyone’s best interests, particularly where children are concerned. Child sexual abuse is an epidemic that demands that the facts be placed above ideology, religion, political party platform, or opinions. We cannot prevent child sexual abuse before it happens by only doing what we think is best. We must consult facts, studies, and experts on the subjects involved so that the best course of action to protect children is taken.


I hope you can see better my perspective, and the perspective of primary prevention, on why sexual education is necessary. I hope you have the time to research what works and what does not work, and I hope that children are important enough to you that you are willing to put aside your own ideas and look at the facts. Sexual abuse and sexual assault cannot be adequately prevented if the facts do not matter.

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