A new, interactive curriculum that teaches children about the health and dangers of sexual activity has been developed by a team of Canadian researchers.
The project was developed in collaboration with a Canadian university, and it aims to provide children with the tools and knowledge they need to protect themselves and the world from sexually transmitted diseases.
“We have this new way of teaching children to understand that their sexual health is a major concern, and that’s what we’ve developed,” said Dr. Sarah T. Loughlin, a researcher in the Division of Pediatric Imaging and Pediatrics at the University of Toronto.
The curriculum is available online for download at the school of medicine at Toronto General Hospital, and is intended for primary and secondary schools.
“It’s the first of its kind in Canada.
There’s not a lot of things like that,” she said.
The new curriculum uses the same tools that are used in primary school classrooms to teach children about sexual health and to help them navigate sexual boundaries.
“The idea is to start with kids’ own sexual health concerns, and then get them into the classroom,” Dr. Laughlin said.
“Then you ask them questions like, what is safe sex, what should we do to protect ourselves from STDs?
Then we talk about the importance of getting tested, and the importance in school of condoms.”
The curriculum focuses on the science of sexual health, including what types of sex and how to get the right kind of sexual experience.
The school also offers hands-on activities for kids in grades 6 to 12.
“One of the big challenges is that there’s not always a good time for kids to explore sexuality,” said Laura R. Miller, a health educator with the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the university.
“There’s a lot more information available about sexual issues in our society, but it’s all been focused on young children.
It’s important that we have a safe place where kids can explore these things, and get to know each other in a safe way.”
The project is not the first time researchers have explored ways to teach about sexual education.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched an online online sex education course for elementary school students, and this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for teaching sex education to children in the United States.
“As a child, I don’t really want to be a sexual educator, but I think we all know we need to be sexual educators to protect the health of the children,” said Jennifer P. Stempel, the deputy director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS Education at the NIH.
The guidelines recommend that sexual education be taught as part of a school’s curriculum and be included in a standardized test for school districts.
A more traditional approach to teaching sex ed involves having a teacher introduce students to sexual topics during the school day, such as what makes people gay or straight, how people have sex, or what constitutes sexual pleasure.
In the past, educators have focused on explaining sex and sexual health information to children.
“You really want teachers to know about the basics of sexual orientation,” Dr., Miller said.
In addition to the curriculum, the School has partnered with the Canadian Centre for AIDS Research (CCAR), a research centre in Montreal that specializes in HIV research and prevention.
“In the past we’ve had to go out into communities and teach young people, but now we can go in and just introduce them to this curriculum and just have them come in and learn it, and just talk to us about it,” Dr, Miller said, adding that the new curriculum has already been tested in the community.
“If it’s working, it’s great, and if it’s not working, we’ll keep trying to make it work.”
The new approach to sex ed comes on the heels of a study published last month that found that sexually transmitted infections among young people were rising.
The report found that more than 30 per cent of high school students in the U.S. and Canada have been diagnosed with STIs since 2009.
About three-quarters of young people surveyed said they had sex with someone they knew as a teen, compared with just 14 per cent in 2013.
“Our results suggest that our understanding of the risks of sexual transmission and the risk of STIs may be changing,” the study authors wrote.
What we need now is more research to understand how we can use this new approach so we can teach our kids about the risks and benefits of sexual behavior.”