How relationship and sexuality education for children and young people promotes wellbeing
Authors: Katrina Marson
Children and young people who receive education in relationships and sexuality are likely to have a positive sense of wellbeing. This type of education also reduces the incidence of negative sexual experiences and sexualised violence.
Katrina Marson discusses these findings in this paper and outlines eight core principles that define effective relationships and sexuality education. Marson also offers insights into how relationships and sexuality education address Articles 13, 17 and 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Comprehensive education in relationships and sexuality empowers children and young people to understand their bodies, pursue emotional and sexual wellbeing as they get older. It also promotes respectful and healthy relationships. It includes the following interdependent themes:
- body awareness and dealing with physical contact
- setting limits and observing limits
- being aware of feelings and intuitions
- getting help from one’s best friend or from adults
- learning to resist transgressions and experiencing one’s own authority
- differentiating between good and bad secrets
- participation and co-determination
- age-adapted sex education
- gender roles and their diversity.
Marson draws on her research in the United Kingdom and Germany where some government jurisdictions have adopted a public health approach to ensure the wellbeing of their populace. They have introduced relationship and sexuality education for children and young people through education, policy and legislation.
Relevant United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Article
- Article 13: Children have the right to freedom of expression and can seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.
- Article 17: Governments should ensure children have access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral wellbeing and health.
- Article 19: Governments should ensure children are protected from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect and exploitation.
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