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Human Development & Sexual Health

Schools have a unique opportunity to positively influence students through educating, role modeling, and creating healthy and supportive learning environments.

What Works?

The promotion of sexual health in schools is best achieved by:

Understanding Sexual Health Concepts

  • Allocating sufficient classroom time to teaching the topic.
  • Using the Information Behaviour Motivation (IBM) model.
  • Engaging students in planning and delivering of information (Hart’s Ladder).
  • Encouraging the role of peer education. Note: peer educators should be well-trained, carefully supervised and be aware of the differences between a supportive role and professional counselling.
  • Sexual health education is linked to other relevant curricular objectives and age-appropriate learning outcomes.
  • Consistently offering education from the beginning of elementary school to the end of secondary school.
  • Presenting information in an age-appropriate manner in a safe, caring, inclusive, and non-judgemental environment.
  • Helping students to focus on self-worth, respect, and dignity of the individual.
  • Providing education on: developmental changes (e.g. puberty), rewarding interpersonal relationships, challenging of stereotypes, prevention of STI/HIV, effective contraception methods, sexual assault/coercion, sexual orientation, gender identity, evolving gender roles and expectations.

Making Sexual Healthy Choices

  • Specifically targeting the behaviours that lead to negative sexual health outcomes (e.g. STI/HIV infection, unintended pregnancy).
  • Teaching critical media skills to interpret and assess the sexual imagery on the internet and to differentiate between credible and problematic sources of information.
  • Supporting informed decision making by providing students with the knowledge, personal insight, motivation, and behavioural skills that are consistent with each individual’s personal values and choices.

Making Connections for Sexual Healthy Living

  • Providing opportunities for students to practice sexual limit setting, condom use negotiation, and other communication and decision making skills.
  • Addressing the impact that behaviours and actions have on others (e.g. concept of consent).
  • Combining sexual health education with access to clinical services, counselling and social services and support from family, peers and the community.

Resources to support implementation can be found in the sections below. Educators may also contact their School’s Public Health Nurse for additional support and consultation.


OPHEA’s Lesson Plans – H&PE Elementary Resources (Grade 2)

Understanding Stages of Development. Lesson plan:

  • Oral Health Eggsperiment
    Using hardboiled eggs, teacher demonstrates how shell of egg acts similarly to enamel when placed in various beverages.

OPHEA’s Lesson Plans – H&PE Elementary Resources (Grade 3)

Making Healthy Choices. Lesson plan:

  • Oral Health Healthy Choices for Healthy Teeth
    Links importance of good oral health to overall health and effects of different food choices.

Getting Ready to Teach Sexual Health

In this section you will find tools and information to prepare you to teach sexual health material and answer questions. Topics include: personal values, instructional methods, ground rules, diversity, sexual and gender identity, puberty, and answering frequently asked questions.

Puberty and Sexual Health

Within this section of our website you will find a variety of puberty and sexual health resources, including lesson plans and videos.

Relationships and Consent

Within this section of our website you will find a variety of resources to support teaching on relationships and consent.

Birth Control and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)

Within this section of our website you will find a variety of resources to support teaching on birth control and sexually transmitted infections.

Infection Control Resources for the Classroom

Within this section of our website you will find a variety of infection control resources, including; hand hygiene activities and videos.

A Tool for Every Educator (JK–Grade 8)

Contact your School’s Public Health Nurse for a staff training.

A Tool for Every Educator resource, along with staff training, provides evidence based information to help you have a positive impact on student’s physical activity, healthy eating, body image and self-esteem. Tips in this resource focus on role modeling, teaching and creating a supportive school environment.

Questions and Answers: Sexual Health Education in the Schools

This document is designed to support the provision of high quality sexual health education in Canadian schools. It provides answers to some of the most common questions that parents, communities, educators, program planners, school and health administrators, and governments may have about sexual health education in the schools.

Questions and Answers: Sexual Orientation in Schools

This resource is targeted at helping curriculum and program planners, educators (in and out of school settings), administrators, policy-makers, and health care professionals implement the current Health and Physical Education Curriculum (2010).

Questions and Answers: Gender Identity in Schools

This Questions and Answers resource is targeted at helping educators (in and out of school settings), curriculum and program planners, school administrators, policy-makers and health professionals implement the Health and Physical Education Ontario Curriculum.

Questions and Answers: Sexual Health Education for Youth with Physical Disabilities

The purpose of this document is to provide answers to some of the most common questions that professionals may have about providing sexual health education to school-aged youth with physical disabilities.

Trans and Nonbinary Youth Inclusivity in Sexual Health

Guidelines for Sexual Health Service Providers and Educators: These guidelines are intended for sexual health service providers and educators who want to better include trans and nonbinary youth in their work. The intent is for this document to help providers and educators feel more knowledgeable about trans identities, so that youth can access services and education that accurately reflect their experiences.

Care for Kids

Care for Kids was originally created by our Health Unit, as a health-based early childhood healthy sexuality and abuse prevention curriculum. Children in this age group are receptive to learning about body parts, health and boundaries, making this an ideal time to lay the foundation for abuse prevention. Care for Kids contains 6 units: Asking for Help, Feelings, Bodies, Babies, Asking for Permission and Wrap-Up. Each unit teaches and reinforces 2 to 4 simple, age-appropriate messages via a circle time, a book, and an activity or craft. The activities are designed to complement the fact that children of this age group learn naturally through play and use schemas to assimilate new information. Information is presented in a matter-of-fact way using anatomically correct language.

  • How to Access the Care for Kids Program: Since 1996, the State of Vermont has used the Care for Kids curriculum in childcare facilities, schools, and home visitor settings. Since 2000, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont (PCAVT) has been the American Distributor for the curriculum. Since 2015, PCAVT has been the sole proprietor for the Care for Kids program nationally and internationally. PCAVT is committed to maintaining and updating the curriculum. Please contact PCAVT if you have any questions regarding the Care for Kids program. or 1-802-229-5724.

Triple P Parenting

A positive parenting program that gives parents simple tips to help manage the big and small problems of family life. Triple P Parenting can help with parenting questions from 0–16 years of age around topics such as sleep, self-esteem, not listening, aggression, family conflict – and many more! For support in  Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, call 1-800-660-5853 and ask about Triple P or visit

Talking to Your Kids About Sexting

This tip sheet for parents outlines characteristics of a healthy relationship, sending sexts, and forwarding sexts.

A Tool for Parenting Children and A Tool for Parenting Teens

These resources provide evidence based information to help parents have a positive impact on their child’s or teen’s physical activity, healthy eating, body image and self-esteem. Tips in these resources address how to use language, behaviour and role modeling to create a home environment that supports positive Healthy Behaviour. Consider contacting your School’s Public Health Nurse to set up a parent training.

When To Keep Your Child Home

This poster provides guidance for parents/guardians on when it’s okay to send their child to school, keep them at home, or call their doctor or health care provider.

For more information, visit our Sexual Health and Healthy Pregnancy web pages.