Sex and Sexuality Education

  • Allison Moore
  • Paul Reynolds
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


This chapter explores sexuality education (noting our use of sexuality for sex in the introduction), principally through the UK example. This is not because the UK example represents a typical system or policy, since there is no common framework or approach. It does, however, cover many of the key themes that reappear in different forms and ways in those countries—mainly North American, Australasian and Europe—that have adopted formal sex education. The focus of discussion is on institutional sex education, either state or private funded but recognised and, to some extent, regulated by the state. Whilst public education developed in the nineteenth century, there was a concentration on the development of sex education after the Second World War, when most nations engaged in ‘piecemeal social engineering’, including comprehensive strategies for education for all children with different degrees of state interventions in welfare (Mishra 1977). This focus on schooling does leave open the question of other forms of sexual education. Foucault’s (1978) analyses of the pedagogisation of children’s sex points to the educative function of most social institutions, such as health and youth services, and social structures such as the family. Whilst we will pay some attention to these contributions to sexuality education, their diversity of messages, indirectness of communication and different degrees of engagement with sexuality make it difficult to capture their impact in the UK example, and the cultural diversity of different nations makes the picture far more complex.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison Moore
    • 1
  • Paul Reynolds
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesEdge Hill UniversityOrmskirkUK

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