Cohen, Jacqueline N.; Sears, Heather A.; Byers, E. Sandra; Weaver, Angela D.
March 2004
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2004, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
We surveyed 336 teachers in elementary and middle schools in New Brunswick to assess their attitudes towards sexual health education (SHE), the importance they assign to sexual health topics, their knowledge about and comfort teaching these topics, and the grade at which they think these topics should be introduced. Ninety-three percent of teachers supported school-based SHE. Most teachers (78%) thought SHE should start in elementary school; 97% indicated it should start by middle school. The teachers reported that the sexual health curriculum should include a broad range of topics, yet, on average, they felt only somewhat knowledgeable about sexual health. Median responses indicated that the teachers also felt only somewhat comfortable teaching most sexual health topics, including communicating about sex, birth control methods and safer sex practices, and sexual coercion and sexual assault; they felt less than somewhat comfortable teaching about masturbation and sexual pleasure and orgasm. There was some variation in responses by gender and teaching level. Although most of the teachers (65%) had received no training to teach SHE, the majority of teachers who had received training rated their training as good or very good. Regarding the quality of SHE in their own schools, although 41 % of teachers perceived it as good, very good, or excellent, over a quarter of teachers (28%) indicated that they did not know what the quality of SHE was in their school. These findings underscore the need for in-service training to increase teachers' knowledge about sexuality and their comfort teaching specific sexual health topics.


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