University of Waterloo (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 3854-3863
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Throughout the fields of psychology and sociology, parents have been concluded as to be the ideal source for sexual health education for adolescents. However, the two main barriers preventing Canadian parents from discussing and teaching sexual health education within the home are the psychological fact of fear and the societal influence of a lack of taking primary responsibility. Previous research and studies have shown that higher education and other such factors encourage a greater view of sexual health for adolescents. We propose that in developing a re-definition and expansion of the types of resources and tools to be received at the familial level or directly for the parents the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Firstly, let’s ask the question: what is sexual health education? From a Canadian perspective, “Health Canada defines sexual health as, “a state of physical, emotional, mental and societal well-being related to sexuality. It is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity.” Education surrounding this topic would need to take a holistic approach; something that could occur within a home setting. Parents have the opportunity to speak to the emotional, mental and psychical areas of sexuality while balancing what inputs society has on this area. The home environment allows for discussion on the topics of relationships, communication, etc even if at its self guided by trial and error through observing parental examples. In other words, these foundations that can be built within the home ideally encourage a greater sense of sexual health that is not like any other setting.
The psychological factor of fear is found in many aspects of parenting, especially for new parents or those who have not experienced a positive example themselves. The specific example to this study is that there are generational trends of fear in the relationships between parents and children surrounding the topic of sexual health education i.e. “How do I bring this topic up with my son or daughter? My parents never did.” This form of education cannot be dependent on the school system alone, as will be discussed in the following section.
The ongoing growth of sexual health information and content within the school system can become an obstacle for parents in discussing the topic within the home. Parents are dependent on what their adolescents receive through the school system as a stepping stone to further discussion; however, it should ideally be the other way around. As mentioned above, adolescents should already have a clear view of sexual health learned from parents as the primary educators. The challenge for parents is that there is a lack of solid resources and tools for building this important foundation. They are simply not equipped to meet the enormity of sexual health education.
In conclusion, we propose that in developing a re-definition and expansion of the types of resources and tools to be received at the familial level or directly for the parents the benefits far outweigh the costs. Exploring these specific psychological and societal influences for parents, new tools and resources can be utilized to aid parents in their role as sexual health educators within the home. In our future work, we are intending to utilize the available information through the internet to encourage intelligent learning as tools and resources for parents and school alike.
Barriers to education, parents, sexual health, adolescents.