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The decrease in adolescent birth rates in the United States reflects an increased use of contraception at first intercourse and in the use of dual methods of condoms and hormonal contraception in already sexually active teenagers.Sexual health information messages are received by children and adolescents multiple times throughout the day from the media, religious organizations, schools, and family peers, parents/caregivers, and partners, although the quality of the information varies.Sexuality education can be disseminated through the 3 learning domains: cognitive (information), affective (feelings, values, and attitudes), and behavioral (communication, decision-making, and other skills).Sexuality education is more than the instruction of children and adolescents on anatomy and the physiology of biological sex and reproduction.Pediatricians and other primary care clinicians can explore the expectations of parents for their child’s sexual development while providing general, factual information about sexuality and can monitor adolescent use of guidance and resources offered over time.Pediatricians can introduce issues of physical, cognitive, and psychosexual development to parents and their children in early childhood and continue discussions at ongoing health maintenance visits throughout school age, adolescence, and young adulthood.
All children and adolescents need to receive accurate education about sexuality to understand ultimately how to practice healthy sexual behavior.
Healthy sexuality is influenced by ethnic, racial, cultural, personal, religious, and moral concerns.
Healthy sexuality includes the capacity to promote and preserve significant interpersonal relationships; value one’s body and personal health; interact with both sexes in respectful and appropriate ways; and express affection, love, and intimacy in ways consistent with one’s own values, sexual preferences, and abilities.
Information about sexuality can be taught and shared in schools, communities, homes, and medical offices using evidence-based interventions.
Children and adolescents should be shown how to develop a safe and positive view of sexuality through age-appropriate education about their sexual health.