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If You Teach Them, They Will Come: Providers’ Reactions to Incorporating Pleasure Into Youth Sexual Education

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Sexual pleasure and satisfaction are integral components of the human sexual experience, yet these crucial aspects of sexuality are rarely placed on sexual education agendas. The objective of this paper is to explore the ways in which various groups of Service Providers (SPs) participating in the Toronto Teen Survey (TTS) understand the role of pleasure in sexual education for youth, highlighting the challenges and benefits of teaching pleasure in diverse settings.

METHODS: The TTS employed a community-based research (CBR) methodology. Between December 2006 and August 2007, 1,216 surveys were collected from youth in over 90 different community-based settings across Toronto by youth peer researchers. In 2008, 13 follow-up focus groups were conducted with 80 service providers from 55 different agencies around the Greater Toronto Area. All transcripts were input into qualitative data management software, NVIVO. Coding and analysis of data employed the constant comparative method.

RESULTS: SPs had a number of competing opinions about the inclusion of pleasure in sexual health education and programming. These concerns can be divided into three major areas: placing pleasure on the agenda; the role of gender in pleasure education; and the appropriate spaces and professionals to execute a pleasure-informed curriculum.

CONCLUSION: Access to resources, training and personal background determine SPs’ willingness and ability to engage in the pedagogy of sexual pleasure. Medically trained clinicians were less likely to see themselves as candidates for instructing youth on issues of pleasure, believing that public health and health promotion professionals were more adequately trained and organizationally situated to deliver those services.

Résumé

OBJECTIFS: La satisfaction et le plaisir sexuels font partie intégrante de l’expérience sexuelle humaine; pourtant, ces aspects essentiels de la sexualité sont rarement au programme des cours d’éducation sexuelle. Nous explorons comment divers groupes de dispensateurs de services (DS) ayant participé à l’enquête Toronto Teen Survey (TTS) conçoivent le rôle du plaisir dans l’éducation sexuelle des jeunes, en soulignant les difficultés et les avantages d’enseigner le plaisir dans divers milieux.

MÉTHODE: L’enquête TTS fait appel à la méthode de la recherche communautaire. De décembre 2006 à août 2007, des jeunes chercheurs ont administré 1 216 questionnaires à d’autres jeunes dans plus de 90 milieux communautaires à Toronto. En 2008, 13 groupes de discussion de suivi ont été menés auprès de 80 dispensateurs de services issus de 55 organismes de la région du Grand Toronto. Les transcriptions de ces échanges ont été saisies dans un logiciel de gestion des données qualitatives (NVIVO). Pour le codage et l’analyse des données, on a fait appel à la méthode comparative constante.

RÉSULTATS: Les DS ont exprimé des opinions partagées au sujet de l’inclusion du plaisir dans l’éducation et les programmes de santé sexuelle. On peut classer leurs préoccupations en trois groupes: le fait même de mettre le plaisir au programme; le rôle des sexospécificités dans l’éducation au plaisir; et les endroits et les professionnels qui conviendraient pour instaurer un programme d’études qui tienne compte du plaisir.

CONCLUSION: L’accès aux ressources, la formation et les antécédents personnels déterminent la volonté et la capacité des DS d’enseigner le plaisir sexuel. Les cliniciens ayant une formation médicale étaient les moins susceptibles de se voir comme des candidats à l’éducation des jeunes au plaisir; ils considéraient que les professionnels de la santé publique et de la promotion de la santé étaient mieux formés et mieux situés sur le plan organisationnel pour offrir de tels services.

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Author information

Correspondence to Vanessa Oliver PhD.

Additional information

Acknowledgements: This study was supported by grants from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives, and the Wellesley Institute. It was hosted by Planned Parenthood Toronto. We thank the entire Toronto Teen Survey Research Team for their help in gathering, managing and analyzing the data: Susan Flynn, Crystal Layne, Dr. Robb Travers, Dr. Jason Pole, Hazelle Palmer, Adinne Schwartz, Roxana Salehi, our exceptional students, research assistants and our youth advisory committee. Finally, we express our gratitude to the community partner agencies that hosted workshops, and the youth and service providers who participated in our research.

Conflict of Interest: None to declare.

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Oliver, V., van der Meulen, E., Larkin, J. et al. If You Teach Them, They Will Come: Providers’ Reactions to Incorporating Pleasure Into Youth Sexual Education. Can J Public Health 104, e142–e147 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03405678

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Key Words

  • Adolescent
  • sexual development
  • education
  • health personnel
  • Toronto
  • Canada

Mots Clés

  • adolescent
  • développement sexuel
  • enseignement
  • personnel soignant
  • Toronto
  • Canada