Information about comprehensive sexual health education.
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2014
Young people have the right to lead healthy lives. Providing them with honest, age appropriate comprehensive sexual health education is a key part in helping them take personal responsibility for their health and well-being. Learn more about sex education that works.
- National Sexuality Education Standards
The National Sexuality Education Standards, developed by experts in the public health and sexuality education field and heavily influenced by the National Health Education Standards, provide the minimum essential content and skills to help students make informed decisions about sexual health. The standards focus on seven topics as the minimum, essential content and skills for K–12 education: Anatomy and Physiology, Puberty and Adolescent Development, Identity, Pregnancy and Reproduction, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV, Healthy Relationships, and Personal Safety. Topics are presented using performance indicators—what students should know and be able to do by the end of grades 2, 5, 8, and 12.
- Characteristics of Effective Sexuality and HIV Education Programs
- Sex Education Programs: Definitions & Point-by-Point Comparison
Dozens of school, community, and clinic-based programs have been proven effective at teaching young people healthy behaviors and helping them protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections.
- Science and Success, 3rd Ed.: Programs that Work to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, HIV and STIs in the U.S.
In the Science & Success series, Advocates for Youth identifies evaluated programs that have been proven to reduce teenage pregnancies and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or to cause at least two beneficial changes in sexual risk behaviors.
- Emerging Answers
Dr. Douglas Kirby reviewed 115 program evaluations to determine the characteristics shared by effective programs. He found that many programs which support both abstinence and contraceptive use have been proven effective; that none of the programs led to increased sexual activity or earlier onset of sex; and that as yet no abstinence-only program has been found effective.
- Office of Adolescent Health, Evidence-Based Programs
The Office of Adolescent Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, keeps a list of evidence-based interventions, with ratings based on the rigor of program impact studies and strength of the evidence supporting the program model. Thirty-one programs meet the OAH’s effectiveness criteria and that were found to be effective at preventing teen pregnancies or births, reducing sexually transmitted infections, or reducing rates of associated sexual risk behaviors (defined by sexual activity, contraceptive use, or number of partners)
- Lesson Plans from Advocates for Youth
Providing instruction about growth and development, sex, and sexuality can be challenging! Here we provide sample exercises to get the lessons started, ensure a safe space for everyone, and convey complete and accurate information on many reproductive and sexual health topics.
- FLASH Comprehensive Sexuality Education Curriculum
FLASH is a publicly available, free comprehensive sexuality education program. Like most of the sexual health curricula that have been proven effective, is grounded in Social Learning Theory. It is designed to encourage people to make healthy choices: abstain longer, use protection if they do have sex, seek health care when they need it, communicate effectively with their families and with their partners and health care providers, seek help for sexual abuse, treat others with respect (not harass or exploit them), and stand up to harassment and exploitation.
- Our Whole Lives Lifespan Sexuality Education Curricula
Our Whole Lives is a series of sexuality education curricula for six age groups: grades K-1, grades 4-6, grades 7-9, grades 10-12, young adults (ages 18-35), and adults. Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality,
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