Sexuality Education: What Is Its Impact?

No. of pages: 4

Publication date: October 2015

Author: UNFPA / WHO Europe / BZgA

Publisher: UNFPA / WHO Europe / BZgA

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This policy brief provides an overview of the impact of good quality sexuality education on the health and well-being of children and young people. The examples in this brief are taken from Europe and Central Asia but they are also relevant to countries outside of these regions.

Sexuality education is teaching about the cognitive, emotional, social, interactive and physical aspects of sexuality. Sexuality education does not encourage children and young people to have sex. In the Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe, experts agreed that: “Sexuality education starts early in childhood and progresses through adolescence and adulthood. For children and young people, it aims at supporting and protecting sexual development. It gradually equips and empowers children and young people with information, skills and positive values to understand and enjoy their sexuality, have safe and fulfilling relationships and take responsibility for their own and other people’s sexual health and wellbeing.”

Sexuality education lays the foundation for a safe and fulfilling passage to adulthood, e.g. by encouraging understanding of emotions and feelings, teaching the principles of human reproduction, exploring family and interpersonal relationships, learning about safety, and developing confidence and communication skills. These can then be built upon gradually, in line with the age and stage of development of the child.

This policy brief presents the available evidence describing the “hard” and “soft” aspects of sexuality education. At the same time, the authors recognize that the impact of “soft” aspects of sexuality education have not been sufficiently studied to date.