Sex Education And Moral Upbringing Among College Students

6 min readFeb 18, 2023

Sex education, also known as sexual education, sexuality education or sex ed, is the instruction of issues relating to human sexuality, including human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, safe sex and birth control, sexual health, reproductive health, emotional relations and responsibilities, age of consent, and reproductive rights.


In the West, at least, the term sex education has been most strongly associated with a constructivist psychological framework. Sex education is the attempt to promote the development of children’s and adolescents’ moral cognitive structures (moral reasoning stages) in school settings.

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These stages were argued to be universal in nature and sequence. From an educational standpoint, there were two main, and interrelated, pedagogical approaches to promoting such development. The less complex is moral dilemma discussion, which entails facilitated peer-group discussions of open-ended moral problem stories. The more complex, which incorporates moral dilemma discussion, is the Just Community School, a radical experiment in direct democracy in small sub-school settings or in small elementary schools. These small democracies are explicitly focused on promoting justice and community. Important characteristics of both of these pedagogical strategies are that they are theory driven, heavily influenced by psychology, designed to promote the development of moral reasoning stages and well-researched. One important distinction that remains to be made is between the psychology of (specifically) cognitive moral development and moral psychology more generally. Like moral development, the latter tends to be both empirical and theory-driven, as well as heavily influenced by psychology; however, it includes many other psychological concepts beyond those studied by moral development (i.e. moralreasoning stage development). For example, moral psychology includes concepts such as conscience. A few attempts have been made to offer an integrative model of moral psychological development (including moral reasoning development). Because the main disagreements between sex education and character focus on the moral reasoning perspective of the former, we will focus mainly on the narrower domain of moral cognitive development, although we will turn to the broader domain of moral psychology as a means of attempting to integrate these various fields.


The promotion of sex education in the classroom can occur in a variety of ways. Role-playing and the use of children’s literature are two ways educators can promote character education. Picture books and children’s literature have been used over many years to entertain, inform., engage, and evoke thought in the classroom. Since teachers are already using literature with pupils, it is imperative that they make their instruction more meaningful by engaging their pupils and promoting important moral values. If children are exposed to character-rich literature in a manner that can serve those dual purposes, character education can be taught, encouraged, and promoted in the classroom. Role-playing is a type of teaching tool that has shown to have positive effects when promoting values. Sex education can be very effective when used with role-playing and children’s literature since both have such promising outcome on affecting pupils’ value development. There are many strategies teachers can incorporate when utilizing literature that have important character-building issues. One particular study indicates that teachers should preview the books used carefully. Having background knowledge of the issue involved in a piece of literature with a moral dilemma helps teachers guide class discussions. Teachers should ask questions and provide details that will have children begin thinking about the circumstances or the story’s dilemma.


We encountered quite a number of articles that only give general guidelines for structuring the teaching, learning process and focus primarily on what sex education should be aimed at. Therefore, we will first present the objectives of curriculum-oriented sex education and the learning outcomes intended in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Focusing on how various authors legitimate sex education, two aspects can be distinguished. Firstly, the personal development and welfare of students is considered to be important. Education must endeavour to guide students towards adulthood and stimulate their identity development. Secondly, the importance of sex education is emphasized from the perspective of society. By enhancing the prosocial and moral development of students, sex education contributes to the quality of society. Both sides of the moral task of education are closely linked, even though an analytical differentiation can be made.


1. Classroom discussion

Although the importance of classroom discussion seems to be almost self-evident in studies on curriculum-oriented sex education, only a few authors elaborate on the specific teaching strategies it requires. Most suggested formats for discussion take the form of a dialogue. A dialogue facilitates the development of critical thinking and independency of mind in particular, as well as attitudes such as tolerance, respect and responsibility. Most proposals centred on classroom discussion that we encountered in the review study make use of the Socratic method derived from Plato. The teacher leads the students through a series of questions to a ‘conclusion’, which may be predetermined. It is a relatively teacher-centred method and calls on the skills and beliefs of teachers. Several variations, however, can be found in the literature under the heading Socratic method. We discuss a few exemplary studies below. In line with the ‘direct approach’ within character education, the Socratic method is used to reach a moral conclusion predetermined by the teacher.

2. Drama and literature

The main argument for using literature and drama is that they provide a stimulating context for students in which they can think and reason about moral dilemmas. From the perspective of character education; the use of literature because it confronts students with moral values and ethical issues. This can help to avoid moral relativism. He argues that ‘solving’ moral dilemmas is not a matter of presenting the right arguments but of placing values in a historical and cultural context. Students can learn the values of their cultural inheritance through literature.

3. Social group differences

The multicultural dimension of contemporary society is reiterated again and again in the studies reviewed. Most authors argue that one of the objectives of sex education is to teach students how to cope with cultural diversity. However, teaching strategies that take social differences between students in the classroom into account are sparse. It is striking that most of the studies depict students as a more or less homogeneous group in terms of values, prior knowledge, learning strategies, and so on. As a consequence, little attention has been paid to the differential learning outcomes of a specific moral-education curriculum.


Family is a part of a social and cultural surrounding that plays an essential role in shaping the child’s personality. Its educative function is mainly to introduce the child to the widely understood social and cultural life together with rules, values and moral standards related to it. In order to fulfil that function, the family has to meet the basic biological and psychical needs of the child, the need to be loved, feel safe, appreciated and accepted. It should also provide the child with socially required patterns of behavior and emphasize values, norms and rules of coexistence typical in the society. Parents are the first role models of moral behaviors for children. The process of their personal development takes place in the atmosphere of norms, rules and moral principles which are followed in the family. The child observes what is going in the family environment and follows certain patterns of behavior. Thus, it can be stated that the moral system of the child is shaped through observation and imitation of conducts which were presented to the child in the course of a family upbringing in which the process of personality shaping takes place during various life activities.


The role of religious institutions in the sex education of the child cannot be overemphasized. Historically, moral teachings have been central to all religions. For instance, historically speaking, since the time of the Bible, moral teachings have been central to Judaism. The Bible is, at its core, a book of ethical teachings. Talmudic sages are seen as moral exemplars, and medieval writers such as Bahya ibn Pakudah and Maimonides, Moses Haylm Luzzatto in the 18th century and the Musar Movement of the 19th century developed a systematic approach to the ethical teachings of the Bible and Talmud in order to teach morals. The same goes for the Islamic religion. Religious institutions have a way of imparting moral lessons in their adherents and this is no more news to many in our country today. In fact, the present in focus of both national and international organization to the exploration of involving and using religious leaders in the campaign against the hydra-headed monster called HIV/AIDS because it is believed that the religious leaders exercise a significant level of control/influence on many people’s thought process and decision making further confirms the importance and relevance of the religious organization in the moral development of the students especially the final year students.