Sexual Development & Behavior: An Introduction
In order to promote growth and well-being across all areas of development, it’s necessary to have knowledge on the wide range of ways children and adolescents mature. This course will inform you about attitudes and beliefs on sexual development, provide information on typical sexual development and behavior for students spanning kindergarten through high school, and provide guidance on how to support students, families, and staff who encounter issues with student sexual behavior. This lesson introduces you to key terms and provides opportunities to reflect on how experience and culture affect how we think about sexual development and behavior.
Normative Behavior in Children and Adolescents
In order to understand student sexual behavior challenges (cautionary, problematic, and severe), you must first have foundational knowledge of normative sexual development and behavior. In this lesson, you will review common examples of normative sexual behavior and learn how to respond in the moment and after the fact. Also, you will read suggestions for ways schools can promote healthy sexual development and prevent sexual behavior challenges.
Preventing Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson we will expand on four important prevention strategies: safe, unsafe, and unwanted touch; permission to touch; digital citizenship; and active supervision. Use these strategies in your work with students to promote healthy sexual development and prevent sexual behavior challenges.
Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson, you will learn about sexual behavior challenges and have the opportunity to think about what students may be trying to communicate when they engage in these behaviors. You will also learn about risk factors that may make students more vulnerable to exhibiting sexual behavior challenges. Finally, you will reflect on the language we use to describe students with sexual behavior challenges and how word choice affects a student’s sense of self, a student’s behaviors, and the types of support a student receives.
Responding to Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson, you will walk through a case study of a sexual behavior challenge in a school environment. You will read a detailed account of how educators respond, collaborate, and communicate so all involved students, staff, and families have the necessary information needed to support the individuals involved.
In this lesson, you will learn how to navigate conversations with families about their student’s sexual development and behavior. You will put yourself in the shoes of families and consider how your communication can grow families’ understanding of sexual development and support them if their child or adolescent experiences sexual behavior challenges. You will also learn effective communication strategies, the types of statements to avoid, and how to refer families to supportive community resources.
Interventions for Children and Youth With Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson, you will learn how risk factors can lead to sexual behavior challenges. You will also learn about potential intervention options for students who experience sexual behavior challenges. Finally, you will review best practices for educators to support students who receive counseling for sexual behavior challenges.
Guiding Faculty and Staff
Because you are a leader on sexual development and behavior in your school, teachers, staff, and families will turn to you for guidance when they have questions or need advice. You should have enough knowledge to provide accurate information, support others in nonjudgmental and culturally sensitive ways, and model best practice. Although this course does not have all the answers to every question or situation you will encounter, it will provide you with a strong foundation to help staff support students’ healthy sexual development and behavior.
A School Administrator Perspective
In this lesson, you will learn how to cultivate school communities that support healthy sexual development and safe environments for all students. As a school administrator, you can help establish a culture where teachers and staff feel safe learning about sexual development and are prepared to support this area of student development. It is equally important to be proactive to prevent sexual behavior challenges, ensure that relevant information is provided to families and staff, and prepare to help families and staff respond when students display or experience sexual behavior challenges. In this lesson, you will also learn how to lead others in nonjudgmental and culturally responsive ways and work collaboratively with your school community when challenges arise.