Objective 1

Curriculum Objective 1: Personal sexual limit

A key objective of this curriculum is to help students identify their personal sexual limit, that is, what sexual behaviors they are willing to engage in and what ones they are not. This involves first helping students to recognize that they have limits and then helping them to explore at each grade level what their sexual limits might be. In sixth grade, to illustrate that students have limits and to help them understand themselves better, we used a game. It is a variation on the game “Simon Says.” In this version, students who make a “mistake” by not doing what Simon says or by doing something when the teacher did not say “Simon says” put a paper dot on their shirt, but continue to participate. The teacher reads various behaviors (“Simon says touch your nose”) and soon these include some mildly embarrassing activities (“Simon says smell your left arm pit.”) Finally, the teacher says “Simon says take off your left shoe and lick the bottom clean.” The students’ reaction is usually very strong. They will say “No way,” and often look angry or betrayed. The teacher explains that the purpose of the activity was to help students experience a limit and asks them some key questions about how they felt when they said no. The educator points out that many students were feeling uncomfortable when asked to smell their armpit, but they did it anyway. Those feelings of discomfort are important, as they help the students realize they are in a situation in which they are close to their limit.

Once the concept of a limit and the students’ right to establish one is clearly explained, the curriculum helps students think about their own sexual limit. In each grade there is a lesson that helps them focus on what their current limit is. This is key, because they need a clear limit to understand threats to it and how to maintain it. In an activity using paper plates, students are asked to draw a line on the plate and then write what they will do to “draw the line against HIV.” In eighth grade students again use a paper plate to first illustrate their world and then think about how AIDS would affect it. Finally they make a promise to themselves about what they will do to protect themselves. One student thanked the educator for the curriculum and particularly for the promise she made to herself. She said: “When you make your promise, it sticks in your mind and you’ll try not to break it.”

While the main focus of the curriculum is to help students postpone sexual activity and we hope students will choose that limit, we are aware that some students will be sexually active even in sixth grade. In the STD lesson in 7th grade, while we encourage postponing sex as the best way to avoid STDs, we also indicate that condoms can help to avoid STDs if someone is having sex. In the 8th grade, we devote a full lesson to condoms, telling a humorous story about a young man who has agreed to have sex with his girlfriend. He purchases condoms and then makes many mistakes, cutting the condom with a scissors, putting it on only part way, using vaseline, etc. As he pulls the last condom from the box, the instructions fall out and he decides to read them. After hearing the story, students make lists of what to do and not to do when using condoms. Using these lists, the students help the educator show how a condom is used. This lesson gives students who choose condom use as their limit the information they will need to successfully use them.

Last modified: February 7, 2011