Sexual and Reproductive Health

What is sexual health education?

Sexual health education is concerned with the well-being of individuals. It recognizes that individuals have responsibilities, and are affected by each other and by the social environment in which they live. Sexual health education is one important aspect of health promotion.

Sexual health education is a broadly based, community-support activity that requires full participation of the educational, medical, public health, social welfare and legal systems in our society. It involves the individual’s personal, family, religious, and social values in understanding and making decisions about sexual behaviour and implementing those decisions.

  • Sexual health education promotes behaviours that help individuals to achieve positive results and avoid negative outcomes. It employs a combination of learning experiences including access to age-appropriate information, motivational supports, and opportunities to develop the skills needed for individual sexual adjustment and for satisfying interpersonal relationships.
  • It enables individuals, couples, families and communities to develop the knowledge, motivation and behavioural skills needed to enhance sexual health and to avoid sexual health-related problems. Sexual health education that integrates these components in program development can have positive effects on an individual’s sexual health choices and practices.
  • Effective sexual health education maintains an open dialogue that respects individual beliefs. It is sensitive to diverse needs of Canadians irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture and religious background.
(From: Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education; Health Canada, 2003)

What is comprehensive sexual health education?

A comprehensive approach to effective sexual health education emphasizes the shared responsibility of parents, peers, schools, health care systems, governments, the media, and a variety of other such institutions and agencies. The principle of comprehensiveness suggests that effective sexual health education programs are:

  • Broadly based: All disciplines or subject areas relevant to sexual health are addressed.
  • Integrated: Learning in formal settings, such as schools, community health care systems, and social service agencies is complemented and reinforced by education acquired in informal setting through parents, families, friends, the media, and other sources.
  • Coordinated: The different sources of sexual health education work together along with related health, clinical and social services to increase the impact of sexual health education.
(From: Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education; Health Canada, 2003)