Sex ed needs a major update, recent research shows, and a new series may be the first important step in that. Advocates for Youth, Answer and Youth Tech Health (YTH) have launched AMAZE an online sexual education resource aimed specifically at 10-14 year olds with the motto #moreinfolessweird.
The videos have all sorts of formats — some spelling it out in drawings, some have more of a Q&A vibe. Or my personal favorite, a song called "How The Boner Grows" which should be reaching the Billboard charts sometime soon. "The animators have tapped into what it’s like to be a young adolescent, what are their questions, their fears," Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth tells Bustle. "These videos offer them engaging, often humorous ways to learn the information. The whole project is designed to assure youth, parents, and educators that sexual development is normal and healthy. Too often our society has fallen prey to the myth that if you teach youth about sex, you cause them to have sex. That is no more true than umbrellas causing rain. Research shows, and AMAZE reinforces, that education is empowerment. It equips our youth with information and skills they can draw on for a lifetime."
I would highly recommending poking around their website and YouTube page, because it's one of the most fun and, crucially, comprehensive sex ed sites I've seen. Covering everything from puberty to sexual orientation and expression to healthy relationships and STIs, it really spells out some of the questions facing teens and pre-teens. Making it available as a YouTube series not only means it's accessible, but that it's available on a platform young people already use — and can use privately, without the awkward talk from your gym teacher.
Now, it's not to say we don't still need to update sex ed in schools, because we really, really do, but this is a great additional resource for kids, parents, and teachers. "The biggest issue with traditional sexual health education is that there is too little of it," Hauser says."...There is a movement afoot and more schools are beginning to implement a comprehensive approach to sexual health education. But too many continue to teach abstinence-only education, failing to educate young people about the health benefits of contraception and condoms and leaving them unprepared as they develop into older adolescents. Amaze.org is not designed to take the place of traditional sexual health education, but to supplement it."
You can check out the video series here. Here's a sneak preview of some of my favorite moments:
Look how great the drawings are! And they're not ashamed to actually show naked people. We need more of this.
Literally the happiest ovaries you will ever see. But considering I only learned to identify the parts of a vagina like a week ago— and I'm 29— they are also really necessary.
There's nothing wrong with getting smelly! especially during puberty. Puberty is the smelliest.
"How The Boner Grows", I'm telling you to check it out. You heard it here first.
Tampons are nothing to be afraid of!
This is the bottom line — assuring this age range that what they're going through is normal.
I remember feeling ashamed of things like underarm hair and the fact that my nipples weren't always erect (normal things) because no one told me they were normal! And you're just too young to understand.
"All young people need honest information about their sexual health and development," Hauser says. "During early adolescence young people begin puberty marking their transition from childhood to older adolescence. Youth this age desperately want to know about the changes they are going through — physically, socially, and emotionally. They want reassurance that they are normal and these changes are normal. Providing them with an engaging, humorous, honest way to learn this information can support them during this time of transition, help them to develop healthy attitudes and behaviors and provide them with the foundation for sexual health throughout their lifetime." AMAZE is a great place to start.
Images: YouTube/Amaze Org