One of the biggest issues facing American culture right now is a lack of sexual education. The popularization of #MeToo, a movement for survivors created by Tarana Burke in 2006, has shed light on widespread sexual misconduct and abuse. While it began as a movement to support young women of color from low wealth communities, it has encouraged survivors from all demographics to give voice to an under-reported phenomenon that impacts everyone in ways that aren’t always obvious. Not only does the lack of sexual education create openings for misconduct to occur, it facilitates the spread of STIs and enables intimate partner violence.
Comprehensive sexual education will be a pivotal tool in working to create a culture that no longer needs a movement like #MeToo. By teaching young people medically relevant information, consent, and healthy relationships, we help them become healthier adults. Much of the anxiety around being young is wondering if you’re normal. Knowing how our bodies work and how to protect and maintain them goes a long way to quell that discomfort, helping youth feel more secure in their own skin. When people have the tools and vocabulary they need, they can better help themselves. That means teaching everyone the signs of sexually transmitted infections, abuse, and how to keep their entire bodies, including their reproductive systems healthy.
Every year, 10 million men and women are physically abused by their intimate partner according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. We can prevent intimate partner violence by teaching people about abuse and healthy relationships, and how to find help if they need it. Comprehensive sexual education empowers everyone to demand their boundaries and limits be respected. There’s a lot of confusion about how to navigate sex and relationships of all kinds and if we can clear that confusion, we can substantially reduce the numbers of both victims and perpetrators.