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Proper use of Language in Sex Education Improves Teen Identity

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The sexual improvement and identity of young people are based on several factors including the language used to bring sexual education. Teenagers need to be communicated to in a language that they quickly identify with for them to recognize and become part of the sex schooling process. It is crucial to ensure that the kind of language each oral non-verbal is comprehensible to the youth to make sure that they make a discovery of their identity. Stories on sexuality that take the values and norms perspective may be of great signiicance in helping the young adults develop healthy sexual behavior. One way of ensuring that the sex education process impacts positively on the adolescents is to use gender-neutral language. That means, the avoidance of stereotyping languages in forms of racism, sex orientation, and class because such stereotypes only hinder the teens from fully expressing their views (Simon, Laura, and Daneback, Kristian). Therefore, language, when used properly in sex education, can improve the identity of teenagers.

The sex education language should explore different aspects of teenage identity by deleting assumptions and making teens face reality. Naturally, humans have the tendency of making assumptions regarding the identity of others based on their actions and looks (Adichie Chimamanda). In sex education, the sex educators should refrain from making assumptions to help teenagers develop the true sexual identity. For instance, the educators should avoid reinforcing stereotypes that depict bisexuals as promiscuous people. The educators must use a language that includes the teenagers and make them aware of their identity because most teens do not feel comfortable with assumptions (KJ et al.).

Sex education content delivered using gender neutral language helps teenagers identify themselves more that when using direct language. Sometimes teenagers feel that more direct language refers to them and may prevent them from making substantial contributions during sex education lessons. However, when the educators employ the use of inclusive pronouns such as "they" instead of "he" or "she" the adolescents will feel freer to be part of the discussion. Sometimes though, the students may ask for direct references which the teacher should accord to make the learning participatory. Thus, the sex educator should not restrict the correct use of pronouns when discussing matters related to sex. For instance, when discussing anatomy, the teacher may opt for the use of transgender language such as "persons" instead of using references like "boys' bodies" and "girls' bodies." The indispensable fact is that anatomy does not equal gender identity (Simon, Laura, and Daneback, Kristian).

The language used in sexual discussions when introduced during childhood correctly, helps children get into teenage with a clearer understanding of sexual identity. Sex education begins at home when parents tackle issues of infant masturbation and physical affection between children. The language parents use in responding to these issues can significantly aid children to develop an identity and understand sexuality better. Children transfer the information they learn from their parents to their peers and language remains a crucial factor in teenage sexual socialization (Mitchell, J. Kimberly et al.). Other than that, children get exposed sexual matters such as nudity, modesty, and privacy from childhood days. Thus, the use of implicit and explicit language that involves both actions and messages can influence the course of sexual understanding for teenagers. Religious values when instilled from the young age can help teenagers understand that sexuality should be fully exercised in marriage. Tabatabaie, Alizera puts it that teenagers should learn religious values that equate sexuality to a divine gift and also limit it to marriages.

The correct language, when employed in discussing sexual and reproductive health, can have a great impact on the sexual identity and health of teenagers. When teachers are handling topics on abortion, birth control methods, and gender roles, they must use a teenage friendly language that do not necessarily demonize or glorify these aspects but which shows clearly the facts surrounding them. For instance, employing interesting titles like, "Cool Teens and Health Sex," during such lessons may attract the attention of the teenagers to participate fully. Moreover, teachers should go above the old cultural and religious values that prevent them from imparting the correct sexual and reproductive health knowledge to adolescents. Research has shown that sexual socialization has not been contextualized in formal sex education (Tabatabaie, Alizera).

Religious and cultural terminologies that are used to refer to sexuality should be tailored to help adolescents understand their sexuality in the contemporary world. Some of the factors that hinder the effective implementation of sex education in some countries around the world is an overdependence on religious definitions and understanding of sexuality. According to Tabatabaie Alizera, sex education is facing hurdles in penetrating the Islamic countries because it is perceived as ungodly. Moreover, the use of Arabic language complicates the process of sexual education in the Muslim world because Arabic is the predominant language used in schools and colleges in such countries. Due to that, most Islamic teens end up rediscovering their sexual identity much later, and that can be disastrous mainly because they lack the basic education on sexuality and sexual health. Therefore, implementation of the correct language use for sex education in Islamic countries can help prevent such problems.

Appropriate use of language when addressing sex issues in school and other settings have contributed to the increased awareness that results in a decline in the rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Poor parent-child relations has been blamed for adolescents involvement in unprotected sex. The situation gets worse when communication on sexually transmitted infections and sexuality is conducted inappropriately. Some of the improper ways of doing sex education are denying teenagers the opportunity to express themselves on their understanding and experiences of sex and sexual development. Also, lack of open and proper use of language when discussing sexual issues can be blamed for some of the cases of early marriages and pregnancies that in most cases have adverse impacts on the reproductive health of the teenagers (Mitchell, J. Kimberly et al.).

Adolescents run to the internet because they lack information on sexuality which if given using the correct language can even enhance their research capabilities online. Teenagers explore information on sex-related topics such as sexuality, menstruation, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (Simon, Laura, and Daneback, Kristian). The reason these teenagers run to the internet for information is that they lack the confidence to ask their parents or teachers questions related to sex and sexuality. The downside of internet information is that they serve the curiosity purposes and do not positively influence teenagers on sexual identity. According to Mitchell et al., teens who get information from the internet act on the information before discussing it with someone else. That is why some teenagers opt to explore pornographic materials that lead to them to practice unprotected sex. And when teens practice the pornography they watch online, they end up contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HI/Aids. Hence, if parents and teachers use language that is understandable to the youth on sexual matters, the teens will not shy away from seeking discussions regarding sex information gathered online. Such practices may enhance the sexual identity of the youth as well as their sexual reproductive health.

It is arguable that teenagers have a feeling of discomfort when talking to their parents or other adults about sex and therefore no matter what language is used, there will never be a change on that. A survey carried out in 2012 indicates that adolescents feel more uncomfortable to discuss issues of sex with their parents than do the parents. The study can be interpreted as meaning that the problem with sex education is all about the feeling of the teens and whom they want to discuss sex education with. While it may be a fact that most adolescents are free to discuss sexual experiences with their peers, the language used by them in such discussions if adopted by the parents and other adults can help ease the discussions with adults. That is why parents need to drop the stereotypes and cultural influences when discussing sex with their children to make the conversations teenage friendly.

The way human beings communicate is interpreted in several ways depending on the environment and past experiences. Language, when contextualized in sex education to address the problems teenagers face in dealing with the transition to adulthood, can have a significant impact on the sexual identity and well-being of the youths. In that regard, it is important for parents and teachers to use language and tell stories that the young people can identify with to prevent disasters that emanate as a result of failed sex education.

Works Cited

Adichie, Chimamanda N. The Danger of a Single Story. TED. (Video). July, 2009, https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story#t-1110238.Accessed 7 June, 2017.

"Half Of All Teens Feel Uncomfortable Talking To Their Parents About Sex While Only 19 Percent Of Parents Feel The Same, New Survey Shows". Plannedparenthood.Org, 2017, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/half-all-teens-feel-uncomfortable-talking-their-parents-about-sex-while-only-19-percent-parents.

. Mitchell, Kimberly J., et al. “Accessing Sexual Health Information Online: Use, Motivations, and Consequences for Youth with Different Sexual Orientations.”Health Education Research 29.1 (2014): 147-157.

Simon, Laura, and Kristian Daneback. “Adolescents’ use of The Internet for Sex Education: A Thematic and Critical Review of the Literature.”International Journal of Sexual Health 25.4 (2013): 305-319.

Tabatabaie, Alireza. “Childhood and Adolescent Sexuality, Islam, and Problematics of Sex

Education: A Call for Re-Examination.”Sex Education 15.3 (2015): 276-287.

Tannen, Deborah. How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently. June 1991, https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=Y2NzZHV0Lm9yZ3xkcGVya2VzfGd4Ojc4MTcwYTY3YjI1NjU1ZGQ. Accessed 7 June, 2017.

August 09, 2021
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