What is your purpose in talking to children and teens about sex — as a parent talking to your own children, as a teacher in the classroom, or as a youth pastor or counselor? You need to be clear on this, because your answer to this question will determine what you teach and how you teach it.
For Linda van Rooyen and Nelia Louw, two educators in South Africa, the purpose is to “uplift, refine, and direct the child towards what ought to be — mature manhood and womanhood. The ideal is that the child should develop healthy attitudes toward sexuality, assuming personal responsibility for behavior within a relationship.”
For Dr. Freda McKissic Bush, CEO of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in the United States, the purpose is to help young people understand how to achieve sexual health and how to build healthy relationships.
In the new sex education curriculum in Ontario, Canada, the overall expectation for the “Human Development and Sexual Health” unit for Grades 1 to 8 is that at all grade levels the students will “demonstrate the ability to make connections that relate to health and well-being – how their choices and behaviours affect both themselves and others, and how factors in the world around them affect their own and others’ health and well-being.”
Parents, the sex education of your children is primarily your responsibility. This responsibility is included in the words of Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Decide what your goal is, and teach toward that goal. Don’t think that the “experts” will do a better job than you could. If there is sex education in your children’s school, know what is being taught.
If you are teaching about sex in the school or in the church, involve parents in your teaching program. You should add to their teaching, not do it for them. Be sure they know what you are teaching.
Most sex education programs in public schools around the world focus on reducing the risk of teen sexual activity, so Dr. Miriam Grossman’s message on the Ontario curriculum will be relevant to you, wherever you live.