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The link between Children’s Mental Resilience and Sex Education

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An article by Evangelia Pantelidou

Today’s reality determines a new framework of educational and social needs for each person, mainly in relation to the search, acquisition, management and utilization of new knowledge and new data. In the different environment that is taking shape, the adoption of alternative fields for learning is considered essential and necessary. Therefore, it is considered important to cultivate resources and behaviors capable of enhancing the quality of life of children. The behaviors, thoughts and actions that one can learn and develop are directly related to mental Resilience, which does not consist of one and only individual, fixed characteristic. As a term, Mental Resilience cannot be precisely defined as it includes various concepts such as: strength, learning, change, etc. However, we could define it as a dynamic process in which individuals show positive adaptation despite the traumatic experiences they experience (Luthar & Cicchetti, 2000).

According to research, children who are mentally resilient and are able to face adversity in their lives are those who are characterized by a number of factors such as empathy, self-esteem, a sense of purpose, a good relationship with at least one parent, the support from someone in the immediate social environment and the relationships they have with their peers.

An important factor in strengthening the child’s self-esteem is the knowledge of his personal identity. Identity is the fixed view that each person has of himself regarding questions such as: “who am I”, “what goals do I have in life”, “what is my place in society”, “what do I want my career to be” career’, ‘what are my religious, moral and political beliefs’ or ‘who am I as a man/woman?’ Personal identity is a foundation of human existence and sexual identity is a very important part of it. A person’s sexual identity begins to be formed from childhood and is completed at the end of adolescence, when the person’s sexual activity actually begins. Understanding, recognizing and accepting it is vital for both the psychological and physical well-being of the individual from a very young age.

Inclusive and Organized Sexuality Education strengthens the resilience, rights and well-being of all children and adolescents and provides opportunities for redressing trauma from bullying, social exclusion and sexual abuse. In addition, teaching is proposed and related to the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality and equips children with knowledge, values and skills to achieve sexual, reproductive and psychological health and well-being. It helps children to secure and claim their dignity, to be able to develop healthy social and sexual relationships characterized by respect, to be able to reflect on how their own choices affect the well-being of other people and finally to be able to understand the human rights and ensure their protection.

Today, insufficient efforts have been made with non-holistic approaches to sexuality education in the school curriculum. The onus is primarily on education to provide the learning processes, programs, opportunities and resources to inform the student body about sexuality issues, to reduce insecurity, discrimination and by extension abuse and sexual violence.

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