Sexuality education can create more opportunities for dialogue between youth and adults and help refute the myths about sexuality that young people often hear from the media and from their peers. Supplementing the education provided by the family can also help adults overcome the difficulties they face when they are the only providers of information and guidance.
Studies show that, providing information about sexuality does not lead young people to experiment with sex. In fact, providing accurate information before young people begin to have sex has been shown to help teens abstain from sex. In the case of youth who are sexually active, accurate sexuality education helps them protect themselves against HIV/AIDS and other STDs by increasing the chances that they will use condoms.
A recent World Health Organization review of reproductive health education programs from all over the world found that the young participants were not more likely to engage in early sexual activity, nor did they show increased sexual activity compared to their peers. Studies consistently show that teens who receive accurate sexuality education are more likely to report using a contraceptive at first intercourse than are teens without sexuality education.
Reproductive health programs can help teens remain abstinent by giving them accurate information about their own bodies, raising their awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, and helping them build the skills to resist peer pressure. Second, among youth that have had sex, information and access to contraceptives helps keep young people safe from HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy. Research shows neither that giving youth information on sexual health and /or providing them reproductive health services does not make it more likely that they will have sex.
The goal of reproductive health education is to promote young people’s health. Good sexuality education focuses on both factual information and skills development in setting goals, communicating about whether to have sex, negotiating abstinence or contraceptive use, and resisting peer pressure. In many schools, reproductive health education focuses only on anatomy and physiology or population and neglects the important role of family life or relationships in sexuality education.