Knowledge about Puberty and Sexual Development in 11‐16 Year‐olds: implications for health and sex education in schools

Educational Studies 21 (2):187-201 (1995)

Summary Knowledge is an important but largely neglected variable in sex education research. This study aimed to develop a measure to assess young people's knowledge about puberty and sexual development, and to examine knowledge in relation to age, gender and school. The main results of the study were that knowledge increased more between age 11/12 and 13/14 than between 13/14 and 15/16, girls knew more than boys at every age, and there were few differences in knowledge between the four schools involved in the study. The research has a number of implications for sex education in schools. First, it was found that even by age 15?16 some young people lack information which is essential if they are to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Second, it may be that boys and girls need to be taught separately to enable the different needs of each gender to be addressed. Third, young people know more about some aspects of puberty and sexual development than others, and there are particular times when knowledge develops most rapidly. Giving teachers this information could help them to target areas of particular ignorance. The questionnaire developed to assess knowledge proved to be accurate and reliable, and a measure that is straightforward to score and analyse. As such, it has considerable potential for use in the classroom
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DOI 10.1080/0305569950210204
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