Comprehensive sex education refers to sex education that offers information on abstinence as well as information on contraception methods providing protection from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Comprehensive sex education also includes teaching communication skills that help youth form their own decisions and negotiate with partners to keep themselves safer in their sexual interactions.
Comprehensive sex education differs from abstinence-only sex education not only because it offers more information, but it differs in its approach. Rather than take a single position and try to convince youth that it is the only way to behave, comprehensive sex education offers information in a format that is appropriate for the target population in terms of their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, and other considerations that make the sex education accessible, and therefore useful to the population being targeted
According to one recent poll, most Americans favor comprehensive sex education. Research also clearly indicates that comprehensive sex education is more effective than abstinence-only sex education in keeping youth safe.
The Sex Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS) defines the goals of comprehensive sex education as follows:
- To provide information about human sexuality, including human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture.
- To provide an opportunity to question, explore, and assess sexual attitudes in order to develop values, increase self-esteem, create insights concerning relationships with members of both genders, and understand obligations and responsibilities to others.
- To help develop interpersonal skills—including communication, decision-making, assertiveness, and peer refusal skills-and help to create satisfying relationships.
- To help create responsibility regarding sexual relationships, including addressing abstinence, resisting pressure to become prematurely involved in sexual intercourse, and encouraging the use of contraception and other sexual health measures.
Read more about comprehensive sex education: Advocates for Youth – Comprehensive Sex Education