Principles Sexual Education

4. Contents of sex education

Priorities of sex education include the strengthening of the individual’s identity, the acquirement of competency in language and communication, objectivity, social and ethical standards, media, intercultural and inter-religious knowledge, as well as learning by means of relationships. In this context, sexuality is depicted positively as something that is fundamentally life serving and constructive: as an identity-giving foundation of the human person, as an expression of love and a sign of commitment, as a source of life and joy.

Sex education focuses on the following points:

  • It helps developing children and youth understand what's happening in their bodies. This pertains not only to the development of the sexual organs and the change of hormonal balances, but also the structure and alteration of the brain and the changing perceptions of one’s environment. Additional personality training can strengthen youth against insecurity and fears and help them discover sexuality as a resource for their evolving development.
  • Information is given about the natural course of the female cycle. Girls learn to value their femininity and fertility. The themes of love and reproduction are worked through in their natural and cultural context, stressing the responsibility of man and woman for beginning and developing a new family. Boys also learn to value their awakening fertility and their masculinity. The different ways that each sex may react sexually are conveyed. Girls and boys consider ways of dealing with these reactions responsibly.
  • Consciousness of one's own fertility has a key function: through knowledge of the ability to become a mother or father one day, the scope and import of the consequences of sexual activity are recognized and considered in a responsible way.
  • Perception of one's own feelings, their expression and a respectful handling of them are practised. This pertains to all feelings, but particularly to the sexual ones that come to light during youth.
  • Working through visions of life and discussing them contributes to purposeful behaviour. The meaning of love and the gift of self are worked through fundamentally.
  • Sexuality always concerns the relationship to self and others. Hence, an essential part of good sex education is the cultivation of competency in communication and competency in relationships. To begin with, the subject of the building of friendships is addressed in an appropriate manner. In order to prevent wounding from broken relationships, the value of reliable, faithful and loving relationships is worked through. Marriage between man and woman is mentioned as the best and most protected place to live out sexuality, and for the raising of children.
  • The young person comes to understand that sexuality underlies particular psychological motivations, depending on the specific phase in life, and that these motivations change in the course of life.
  • Sex education discusses the biological and cultural relationship between man and woman and imparts an encouraging image of each sex. Fatherhood and motherhood are introduced as equally meaningful and responsible tasks. The core family (father, mother, child/ren) is seen as the general rule, since this generally corresponds to the young people's background and also to their aspirations and desires.
  • In a manner appropriate to their age, sex education introduces various sexual orientations in the context of their real distribution in the population. Minorities are neither discriminated nor idealized; majorities are neither ignored nor depreciated. Respect for the individual person is communicated.
  • Great care is taken for children and youth who suffer emotional pain due to broken family relationships. These are addressed in an appropriate way and not trivialized.
  • Information is given on subjects such as teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, without making them a main emphasis.
  • Sex education addresses the physical and psychological risks of early sexual activity and promiscuous behaviour and the importance of waiting or abstaining (sublimation of the drive).
  • The development of the unborn child beginning at conception is demonstrated verbally and with illustrations. The physical and psychological consequences of an abortion are also shown in an age-appropriate manner.
  • An objective presentation of all family planning methods and their effects on women and men individually, and on their relationship, is given, again in a manner appropriate to age and developmental stage. Effects and side effects of contraceptives are described in an age-appropriate manner.
  • Legal and personal boundaries are discussed so as to give orientation and to prevent sexual violence. The young people learn to name their personal boundaries and practise saying no (self-assertion training).
  • Sex education addresses hygiene of body and soul, e.g. the avoidance of pornography, telephone sex, sex as a commodity, etc.
  • Sex education strengthens media competence. Reality and fiction are set against one another. Youth receive help in taking a critical look at their behaviour toward media in the context of their own personal development and life goals, especially considering the backdrop of the harmful effects pornography consumption has on relationships. The topic of addiction prevention is also addressed.