To Teach Sex Ed or not to Teach Sex Ed

The controversy of sexual education is still present.  The controversy of sexual education is still present.  Some may say that youth should get sexual education in school, as they do with other subjects (Sifferlin, 2014).  Unfortunately not all states in the USA are teaching youth sexual education in the classroom.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures only 22 states and the District of Colombia provide sex education in public schools.  Since all states don’t provide sexual education in the classroom, others may say that sex education should start at home.

While some prefer that sex education be taught at home, research on parents has demonstrated that parents are unsure how to teach sexual education in the home.  They are unsure of how to communicate with their adolescent, and don’t feel they are knowledgeable enough (Chirban, 2012; Corona, Eastman, Elliot, Kanouse, Klein, Schuster, & Zhou, 2008).  Other research has shown that when parents do talk to their adolescent about sex and sexually-based topics, are more likely to postpone intercourse, use contraception, and have fewer partners (Chirban, 2012; Corona, Eastman, Elliot, Kanouse, Klein, Schuster, & Zhou, 2008;   Hedgepetgh & Helmich 1996).   Bridging this gap is where sex educators can help.  Conducting and creating workshops for parents about talking to youth would be beneficial.  When teaching parents how to talk to their youth about sexual education, I think it would best to utilize the Cooperative Learning Model.

Cooperative Learning Model

The Cooperative Learning Method utilizes group work, face-to-face interdependence, individual accountability, cognitive theory, and self-questioning while integrating new material (Estes, Gunter, & Mintz, 2011).  The cooperative learning method expands on the idea that people learn more by doing something active versus lecture and note-taking.  The cooperative learning model includes five key elements; (1) positive interdependence, (2) individual accountability, (3) face-to-face interaction, (4) explicit teaching of social skills, and (5) group processing.  Along with five key elements, there are three planning steps and seven implementation steps (Estes, Gunter, & Mintz, 2011, p. 263):

The Design

  1. Design the Know, Understand, Able to Do (KUD) objectives
  2. Plan size and composition of groups
  3. Plan for all key elements of cooperative learning

The Implementation

  1. Explain the task
  2. Identify critical social skills
  3. Monitor and provide feedback during group work
  4. Ask each group member to summarize
  5. Evaluate
  6. Asses group processes

The Cooperative Learning Method in Action

If an educator wanted to educate parents on teaching their children about puberty, they could follow the steps of the cooperative learning theory using group work and social skills to reach the parents.  The educator would decide the goals and objectives concerning puberty and design activities surrounding them. An educator can create a timeline from age 8 to age 19, and ask parents to write what goes on during puberty at each of the ages.  The educator can divide the audience into dyads or triads, giving each group a certain color marker.  The groups will have to socialize with each other, rely on one another’s previous knowledge (face-to-face interaction), promote individual accountability, and allows for group processing.  If the exercise is done before the teaching of the content, it may also foster self-efficacy.

The educator should clearly explain the task of the activity, to identify what occurs during puberty at certain ages.  As the activity is in motion, the educator should be monitoring group work, available to be a clarification resources if necessary; if a parent need assistance with terms, ages, etc.  The educator can observe social skills of individuals, who is more educated, less cooperative, who works well with whom, etc.  Observing social skills of individuals will assist the educator in figuring out groups of the audience for future activities, which is imperative in the cooperative learning method.

Within the cooperative learning method are multiple specific cooperative methods.  According to Estes, Gunter, & Mintz, the graffiti model, jigsaw, the academic controversy model, and student teams-achievement division (STAD) are different methods that follow the steps and patterns of the cooperative learning method (2011).  The Graffiti Method could be used when teaching parents about STIs.  An educator can have parents divided into groups and give each group a piece of flip-chart paper with an STI that effects teens the most.  The educator can instruct parents to write down symptoms, transmission, or whatever he/she plan to teach, concerning the STIs.  Each group will circle around to each of the group’s paper, adding to each sheets with their designated color markers, until they return their original paper.  The graffiti structure ensures positive interdependence and face-to-face interaction; individual accountability can be measured by having parents initial their responses and generalizations (Estes, Gunter, & Mintz, 2011).

When teaching parents, parents don’t want to feel like they are preparing for test, they want to gain knowledge to educate their children. The use of group work and activities will reduce the test anxiety attitude.  Cooperative learning groups allow students [parents] to share cultural experiences and examples that provide an opportunity for increased learning by all group members (Estes, Gunter, & Mintz, 2011 p. 261).  Allowing parents to learn from each other, realize the sexual education they already possess, and notice that they may share similar concerns.   The Cooperative Learning Method utilize social skills, which will get parents talking with one another, and they can learn from each other, all skills that can be used to teach parents to educate their children about sex and sexually-based topics.  Weather at home or in school, the purpose of sex education is to promote positive feelings about one’s self and body, remaining healthy, and building positive, equitable, loving relationships- to becoming sexually healthy (Hedgepeth & Helmich, 1996).


Chirban, J. T. (2012). How to talk with your kids about sex. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson.

Corona, R., Eastman, K. L., Elliot, M. N., Kanouse, D. E., Klein, D. J., Schuster, M. A., & Zhou, A. J. (2008).  Evaluation of talking parents, healthy teens, a new worksite based parenting programme to promote parent-adolescent communication about sexual health: randomized controlled trial. BMJ, 2008; 337:a308. doi:10.1136/bmj.39609.657581.25

Estes, T.H., Gunter, M. A., & Mintz, S. L. (2011). Instruction: A models approach (6th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Hedgepeth, E. & Helmich, J. (1996). Teaching about sexuality and HIV. New York, New York: New York University Press.

Sifferlin, A. (2014, March 13). UN sets guidelines for how developing countries should teach pubertyTIME Magazine.

One response to “To Teach Sex Ed or not to Teach Sex Ed

  1. Cashanda, this was a great idea. I never thought of doing a full lesson with parents. I think your blog was a great idea to incorporate skills for parents and get them discussing sexuality topics in front of people which can help them build the confidence to speak with their own children. Teaching parents together also gives parents a network of other parents to help support and guide each other through the process of talking with their children. In addition to sex education in school, I think organization and or cities should provide class like this to parents because it helps enforced what the parents have learned during the course (s) and gives them support from people who are going the same situation as them. Now, only if we can implement this program nation wide.

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