Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964517 | Print ISBN: 9781412909167 | Online ISBN: 9781412964517| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Few topics elicit as much controversy as sex education does. The sex education debate reveals a range of societal attitudes, values, and beliefs about children, adolescents, sexuality, and gender. This entry considers the practices of sex education in their historical context and will conclude by outlining key contemporary concerns. Significant material changes, such as those associated with urbanization, at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries made it necessary to warn adolescents of the dangers of sex. The concern at that time was that the risk of disease (syphilis and gonorrhea), exploitation, prostitution, and unwanted pregnancies in urban areas would disrupt the successful transition from adolescence to adulthood. Although literature was provided to parents to warn their children about the dangers of masturbation—the erosion of self-discipline and self-control that would inevitably lead to poor health, disease, and even death—professional experts were also considered necessary to respond to this ...