Dr. Elissa Barr,
associate professor of public health in the Brooks College of Health at the
University of North Florida in Jacksonville, is among a handful of sex
educators nationwide who came together to develop and release the National
Teacher Preparation Standards on Sexuality Education, created to provide
guidance to institutions of higher education in order to better prepare
undergraduate physical and health education teachers to deliver sexuality
education in school settings.
The recent Centers for Disease Control
findings that report 80 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 have had no formal sex
education before they have sex for the first time, certainly point to a missed
opportunity for educators and community members to provide young people with
the skills and tools to make healthy decisions about sex and relationships.
Barr, a Southside resident, is among
10 sexuality education professors from across the country that developed these national
standards for sex education at the university level and is a co-author of
“Improving Sexuality Education: The Development of Teacher-Preparation Standards,”
published this month in the Journal of School Health.
"Being part of such an important
national initiative has been the highlight of my career. I am honored to have
worked with some of the best sexuality educators and professional organizations
in my field,” said Barr. “Better preparing teachers to deliver quality
sexuality education is critical, not only to reduce teen pregnancy and
STDs/HIV, but to improve communication, relationships and sexual health in
The National Teacher Preparation
Standards on Sexuality Education represent an unprecedented unified effort to
better prepare undergraduate physical and health education students earning
degrees at higher education institutions to provide high-quality comprehensive
sexuality education that is developmentally, culturally and age appropriate. This
is the first time specific standards for teachers have been developed in
teaching sexuality education.
In the United States, sexuality
education is most commonly taught within the health curriculum at the middle
and high school levels. In addition to parents, America’s teachers play a vital
role in providing young people with the information they need to protect their
health and futures. However, only 61 percent of colleges and universities
require sexuality education courses for health education certification and
nearly one-third of teachers responsible for sexuality education report
receiving no pre-service or in-service training in this area.
“Providing instruction on sexual
health education can be challenging. Teachers have the unique opportunity to
directly impact the health of our youth, including their current and future relationships,”
said Barr, who has been studying adolescent sexuality and sexual health for
more than 15 years. Her research addresses advocacy and policy to improve
sexuality education to reduce risky sexual behaviors of youth.
The National Teacher Preparation Standards address seven broad
professional areas, including professional
disposition, diversity and equity, content knowledge,legal and professional ethics,planning, implementation and assessment.
With these standards, teacher-preparation programs will be able to guide
curriculum, instruction, and assessment decisions among undergraduate students
who will eventually be responsible for teaching sexuality education.
The development of the National Teacher Preparation Standards
is part of the ongoing Future of Sex Education Initiative, a national project
to improve sex education and reproductive health of the nation’s youth (reduce
STDs/HIV, teen pregnancy, rape/dating violence and improve relationships/communication).
The initiative is led by three professional sex education organizations:
Advocates for Youth, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United
States and Answer.
National Teacher Preparation Standards
for Sexuality Educationis currently available in the
Journal of School
For more information
on the teacher standards, visit http://www.futureofsexeducation.org.
The Brooks College of Health at UNF
offers a bachelor’s degree in nursing as well as an RN-BSN program for
registered nurses desiring to further their education. The College also offers
bachelor’s degrees with specializations in community health, exercise science
and health administration, in addition to a bachelor’s in athletic training and
nutrition. Graduate programs include a master’s in nursing, public health,
health administration, mental health counseling, geriatric management, exercise
science/chronic disease and nutrition. Additionally, the College offers two
doctoral degrees: a Doctorate of Nursing Practice and a Doctorate of Physical
university located on an
environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to
enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures
through a well-rounded education.
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