In search of healthy sexuality: the gap between what youth want and what teachers think they need

26 February 2014

The fact that youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are most vulnerable to contract HIV (UNAIDS, 2011) is a clear indication that adults are failing to provide them with the necessary skills and information to make informed decisions about healthy sexuality. Adults, including teachers, have a responsibility to engage youth about sexuality, in order to challenge critical thinking with the aim of contributing towards healthy and responsible individuals. Presently, sexuality education is taught as a component of Life Orientation, and teachers are given a considerable amount of autonomy on what and how to teach. This article aims to explore the gap between what youth want from sexuality education and what teachers think they need. I pose two questions: What are the sexuality education needs of youth? What do teachers think youth need in terms of sexuality education? To answer these questions, I argue that teachers seem to have knowledge on what youth need, but do not necessarily respond to what youth require in terms of sexuality education. Using an interpretive stance, I explore potential gaps and possible opportunities in how sexuality education is taught and discuss the need for a common agreement on, or understanding for the teaching and learning of sexuality education. I conclude with direction that future research might take.