A New Model for Adolescent Sexual Health Education

In Beyond Abstinence and Risk: A New Paradigm for Adolescent Sexual Health, published in Women’s Health Issues, author Amy Schalet argues that the current paradigms of sex education — abstinence-only and sex-as-risk — “focus on acts of teenage sexual intercourse, conceptualize such acts as dangerous, and assume that emphasizing their risks is the way to help young people become sexually healthy.” Schalet then proposes an alternative model for adolescent sexual health: ABC-andD, which “directs attention to the fundamental skills, relationships, and resources that youth need to develop as healthy sexual and emotional beings.” In this model, A refers to autonomy of the sexual self, B refers to building good romantic relationships, C refers to connectedness with parents and other caregivers, and D refers to both recognizing diversities and removing disparities in access to vital socioeconomic resources.

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