LESSON 10 • 187 Copyright 2018 Marline E. Pearson This curriculum, and in particular this lesson on sexual decision-making, along with Lessons 11 and 12, represent a unique approach to addressing sexual risk avoidance. Prevention programs often focus on reducing risky behaviors by providing sexual health knowledge of risks and protection, skills, and services. But, many youth lack the motivation to avoid STDs, HIV, and unplanned pregnancy. They need bigger and more positive reasons, that will stick even beyond their teen years, to follow through on sexual delay and sexual risk avoidance. Relationship Smarts PLUS-SRA takes a holistic, positive youth-development approach by helping youth to better understand and develop themselves, define their goals, and acquire essential, healthy relationship and life skills. It helps teens think about their lives now and into the future. It is by intention that sex is addressed directly at this point in the curriculum, after the material on developing healthy selves and healthy relationship skills. This holistic approach is extended to sexual matters and draws on what they have learned so far about healthy relationships. Before offering health information in Lesson 11, we focus here in Lesson 10 on the heart. Teens consider the meaning they themselves want to attach to sex and the contexts in which that meaning can be realized. The lesson begins by offering a deeper look at intimacy, love, and behavioral motivations. This exploration of intimacy speaks to young people’s desire for connection, affirmation, respect, and meaning. It helps teens ask some basic questions about what makes sex beautiful and most affirming and about whether two people are on the same page about emotions, intentions, and desires. Sex is a most intimate form of communication. In this lesson, they may discover the positives that sexual delay offer for ultimately achieving a fulfilling love life—that the time and maturity it may take to learn more about love and to find if a person is worthy of their love—may be worth it. It is not simply about waiting because of negative risks. There are many benefits in terms of freedom to explore, to grow, and to learn more about and from relationships. The goal of this lesson is for teens to take ownership over defining a context for sex that is personally meaningful and protective of their aspirations and goals in life. It empowers them to identify their sexual values and intentions versus simply following the cues of the cultural scripts around them. Teens engage in personal decision-making on sexual boundaries and decide when, under what conditions, and with whom they’d move their line. They explore the risks and benefits of their sexual choices, especially the benefits of waiting until they become adults or are married. Teens are introduced to some important testimonies from sexually experienced teens and young adults that Overview Sexual Decision-Making
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