By Amanda Cardone-Luyben, MCASA Program Supervisor
Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is a great time for professionals who are engaged in the movement against sexual violence to focus the public’s attention on this pervasive crime which faces all of our communities. SAAM is also an excellent time to highlight and promote effective prevention efforts. Health sexuality education and dialogue, while often not done under the auspices of “sexual assault prevention,” can be an effective tool for doing just that, as it will improve individuals’ sense of respect, responsibility, and boundaries, their understandings of consent, and reduce shame.
For human service, mental health, and education professionals who focus their work on young children or adolescents, it’s important to remember that there is no age too young to have conversations about healthy, age-appropriate sexual development and safety. This resource from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center
(NSVRC) provides an informative overview of ways to encourage healthy sexual development in children. Additionally, VAWnet.org has compiled a comprehensive resource collection for those who work with children younger than the age of 13. (Working with Children Towards a Healthy & Non-Violent Future
Healthy sexuality conversations, however, are not just for youth. The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance
recently reviewed six curricula targeting varied ages and recommended four, one of which, titled “Our Whole Lives” spans the lifespan from age 5 to adults in later life, and lists its values as “Self Worth,” “Sexual Health,” “Responsibility,” “Justice and Inclusivity.” These values are key concepts for sexually healthy individuals and a sexually healthy society.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
identifies the following characteristics for a “sexually healthy adult.” Take a moment and consider whether you can further foster development of these behaviors in the clients or students with whom you work, or within yourself.
on healthy sexuality for advocates, counselors, and prevention educators, or contact MCASA.