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Profs: Teacher-student relationships key to sex education

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Researchers from Ohio and Kentucky looking into sex education in schools have discovered that "teacher-student relationships are key" to making sure that kids achieve a healthy sex life.

Eric Anderman, educational-psych prof at Ohio State, and colleagues including Pamela Cupp of Kentucky carried out the research on some 700 high school students. The study was designed to find out the best ways of making sure that youngsters would always use condoms and in general learn healthy sexual practices. It soon became clear that teachers willing and able to forge closer relationships with their students always came out on top.

“The relationship between the teacher and the student, particularly during adolescence, is very important," said Anderman. "It was easier for them to absorb the material and become more interested."

It's all about getting students to be genuinely caught up in what they're doing, apparently. This is where the more hands-on approach always sees a better outcome.

However, Anderman, Cupp et al admit that the teachers they selected for their study may have been more able to satisfy teenagers' needs than most. According to Ohio State:

Despite the positive results, Anderman cautions that not all teachers will have the same impacts as those in the study. Every teacher in this study, both temporary and permanent, received professional training prior to entering the classroom. In reality, not all teachers will have the same training and know-how, and decisions should be made based on who is the best fit for each class.

“When you have kids who ... two weeks later don’t remember any of it, you’re not getting anywhere," Anderman added.

But it was clear that pupils learned more about sex when they were getting practical rather than just theoretical instruction. It seems that the teachers in Kentucky found that fieldwork added value to the overall experience.

Students who had a sexual partner also participated in more classroom discussions with the regular teacher. These students valued the discussions, reporting that the discussions were higher in quality and more frequent overall.

The whole thing seems to have gone down very well with the kids.

"Students felt comfortable with these teachers and were able to joke around and laugh with the teachers, but also took them more seriously," according to Anderman.

Read all about it from Ohio State here. ®

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