Effective sex education also provides young people with an opportunity to explore thereasons why people have sex, and to think about how it involves emotions, respect for one self and other people and their feelings, decisions and bodies. Young people shouldhave the chance to explore gender differences and how ethnicity and sexuality caninfluence people's feelings and options.
They should be able to decide for themselveswhat the positive qualities of relationships are. It is important that they understand how bullying, stereotyping, abuse and exploitation can negatively influence relationships.
o what information should be given to young people?
Young people get information about sex and sexuality from a wide range of sourcesincluding each other, through the media including advertising, television and magazines,as well as leaflets, books and websites (such as www.avert.org) which are intended to besources of information about sex and sexuality. Some of this will be accurate and someinaccurate. Providing information through sex education is therefore about finding outwhat young people already know and adding to their existing knowledge and correctingany misinformation they may have. For example, young people may have heard thatcondoms are not effective against HIV or that there is a cure for AIDS. It is important to provide information which corrects mistaken beliefs. Without correct information young people can put themselves at greater risk.Information is also important as the basis on which young people can developed well-informed attitudes and views about sex and sexuality. Young people need to haveinformation on all the following topics:
Sexual development & reproduction - the physical and emotional changesassociated with puberty and sexual reproduction, including fertilisation andconception, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
ontraception & birth control - what contraceptives there are, how they work,how people use them, how they decide what to use or not, and how they can beobtained.
Relationships - what kinds of relationships there are, love and commitment,marriage and partnership and the law relating to sexual behaviour andrelationships as well as the range of religious and cultural views on sex andsexuality and sexual diversity.In addition, young people should be provided with information about abortion, sexuality,and confidentiality, as well as about the range of sources of advice and support that isavailable in the community and nationally.
When should sex education start?
Sex education that works starts early, before young people reach puberty, and before theyhave developed established patterns of behaviour.
The precise age at whichinformation should be provided depends on the physical, emotional and intellectual