Sex Ed for the digital era

The biggest problem with sex education is that no one can agree what it should cover. Or how. Or when. It’s not even useful to call it “sex education” when sex is such a small part of what we are really trying to convey to young people. Instead, it is personal, social and health education; it is relationships education.

But there is one thing that everyone can agree on: sex has changed in the digital era. What used to be kept behind closed doors, or on top shelves, is now just taps away on any one of the billions of electronic devices we carry with us every day.

We designed AtFirstSite to address what teachers, and parents, and children told us is a growing problem: this type of education has failed to keep pace with the technology. We have collectively lost the ability to guide children through a critical, complex and deeply personal topic – in large part because we used to rely on it being comparatively difficult to find sexual and sexualized content. It isn’t any more.

Sexual content of all types – from raunchy music videos to digitally manipulated celebrity pics to commercial pornography to sexting – is ubiquitous and so when we set out to create AtFirstSite, we started with the assumption that children will see such content sooner or later – and most likely engage with it.

From that point, the only effective solution is education in its truest form: provide learners with a framework of understanding that they can apply going forward. That’s what the AtFirstSite program does, in eight parts.

The course covers everything from understanding body image, to recognizing what is safe, to taking control of their own lives online. It is a foundation on which we hope children will be able to build on as they grow and mature.

As with many things in life, we are not able to shield our children from the adult world around them. However this program, we believe, will help them make sense of what they see and give them tools to navigate the online world. For more information, visit our main program page.

on May 9 • by

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