35 lessons on teaching about contraception!

The fourth edition of Positive Images: Teaching about Contraception and Sexual Health has 35 lessons for teaching these subjects in empowering and…well, positive ways! The manual is broken into three sections: 1) Teaching about Contraception, 2) Methods, Methods, Methods, and 3) Teaching about Sexual Health. Teaching about Contraception has 13 lessons for teaching about the many contraceptive choices available today. The lessons help participants examine basic facts, range of efficacy, risk, and decision-making, as well as gender, sexual orientation, and consumer literacy. Methods, Methods, Methods includes lessons that zone in on particular types of contraceptives: abstinence, long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), condoms, insertive methods, and emergency contraception. Participants learn key information about these methods, and how to develop skills for successful use. Teaching about Sexual Health explores the confusing and complex world in which we gain information about sexual health for ourselves, and encourages critical thinking about the world around us. Participants learn basic information about their bodies, reproductive and sexual health, how to access services. A supplemental resource section has a number of handouts that may be used in conjunction with a number of different lessons, or as standalone materials.

Section 1: Teaching about Contraception

This lesson helps teens assess their own risk for pregnancy and STIs, by stressing the importance of preventing both unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

This lesson provides an opportunity for participants to rehearse positive responses to excuses that often discourage the use of protection.

This lesson supports the normalcy of a range of sexual expression and helps young people identify those behaviors that place an individual at risk for unplanned pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infection.

This lesson gives participants an opportunity to assess the considerations that go into making a decision about contraception.

Contraceptive Dominoes is a learning game that allows young people to apply information about contraceptive methods and abstinence.

The lesson makes participants aware that, although imperfect, the methods now available give people far greater opportunity to control their sexual and reproductive lives than ever before in history.

This lesson builds on the growing genre of magical themes with participants creating fictional magical methods of birth control similar to traditional non-magical methods.

In this lesson, participants will explore attitudes males and females may have regarding contraception and safer sex.

This lesson provides an opportunity for participants to learn that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth may be at even greater risk for unplanned pregnancy than their heterosexual peers.

This lesson helps participants imagine how couples can talk about contraception and include it as part of the language of romance.

In this lesson, participants will review information about contraceptives and safer sex in order to create these much needed advertisements that are both appealing and accurate, and encourage condom use.

This lesson gives participants the responsibility for obtaining information about contraception and, in doing so, demystifies looking for contraceptives in a pharmacy or calling a family planning clinic or physician’s office.

This lesson involves participants in long-range contraceptive planning to establish the connection between life change and effective contraception.

Section 2: Methods, Methods, Methods

This lesson helps participants think about what it takes to make abstinence work – and what they would need to do if they were going to choose abstinence as the way to protect themselves from unwanted consequences of sexual intercourse.

This lesson is designed to help young people begin a dialogue about abstinence with their parents, guardians or other trusted adults.

This lesson provides participants with the information required to make a decision about whether LARCs are appropriate for them or their partners.

This lesson dispels common myths about IUCs and explains some of the non-contraceptive benefits of LARCs.

This lesson helps participants to identify factors that impacts a person’s choice of contraceptive, and explains the difference between LARCS and other methods of contraception.

This lesson presents the facts about hormonal contraceptives and leads to the recognition that each woman needs to examine her own feelings in order to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of a particular method as a possible choice for herself.

The active involvement of participants in this lesson is designed to relieve their anxiety about using condoms by increasing their confidence in condoms as a reliable form of contraception and protection against sexually transmitted infections.

This activity gives participants a chance to confront possible barriers to condom use and to respond to these barriers. After participants have had a chance to develop condom dialogue competence, they get to practice their skills and increase their condom efficacy.

In this lesson participants confront the issue of talking with a partner about condom use, and in addition, reflect on the impact negative attitudes may have on a couple’s ability to protect themselves. Participants examine and evaluate a variety of brands of condoms and personal lubricants and overcome common aversion to touching condoms.

This lesson utilizes a “bingo” game to initiate discussion about the knowledge and attitudes that could affect a person’s ability to use vaginal methods of contraception.

This lesson serves to introduce participants to the facts and allows them to examine situations in which a woman/couple might consider requesting the use of emergency contraception.

Section 3: Teaching about Sexual Health

This lesson is designed to help participants realize that people must examine the messages they are receiving and then make conscious decisions regarding their own beliefs and behaviors.

This lesson introduces three responsible sites and encourages young people to evaluate carefully the information they are receiving from the Internet.

This lesson introduces three responsible sites and encourages young people to evaluate carefully the information they are receiving from the Internet.

This lesson helps participants examine family communication about sexuality and explore ways to initiate discussion on sexual issues.

This lesson, in contrast to those sometimes found in abstinence-only programs that promote simplistic slogans, helps normalize natural sexual responses for young people and build skills for recognizing and handling sexual responses.

This lesson examines the issue of relationships in which adult males are having sexual intercourse with teen females. It encourages participants to evaluate those relationships and give advice about them.

This lesson provides basic personal and professional sexual and reproductive health care information and aims to increase young people’s comfort in discussing sexual and reproductive health care and potential concerns sexual and reproductive parts of their bodies.

This lesson seeks to empower young women to identify possible pregnancy, get help from people they trust in making decisions about a pregnancy, and access appropriate community resources.

This lesson breaks down some of the barriers that may prevent a person from accessing the health services they need.

This lesson attempts to illustrate the important connections of global issues to family planning through an experiential process.

This lesson reviews basic information about hormonal methods, barrier methods, condoms and sexual health care. It gives the educator an opportunity to reinforce key facts and clarify areas of confusion.

Resources Section
  • Common Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections – A Summary
  • Using Condoms
  • Contraceptive Options
  • Finding Help: A Resource List

Foreword for Positive Images: Teaching about Contraception

By Former Surgeon General M. Joycelyn Elders, MD

What an excellent book to help people learn about adolescent sexual health! The updated fourth edition steers educators in a refined path that is improved and even more relevant and easy to use than the previous editions.

Sometimes we are so sensitive that our children might hear something that will harm them that we maintain a silence about their own sexual development. We all have sexual development; we just want our children to develop a healthy and wholesome attitude about their sexuality rather than a dysfunctional view. This book can help us as educators and parents to inform and guide them in healthy directions.

When children grow up believing that sex is dirty, sexual dysfunction is more likely to follow than when children grow up believing that sex is for pleasure and procreation when they are old enough to be respectful of themselves and their partner, responsible for the consequences, and to practice safe sex.

When generation after generation is uninformed of the facts of human sexuality, an ignorant society is created which wreaks havoc and heartbreak in people’s lives.

Ignorance is not bliss. It is not bliss for a society that says, “Sex is dirty; save it for marriage.” Are we saying that sex in marriage is dirty?

Ignorance is not bliss for more than 70 percent of our teens who are sexually active before reaching the age of 20. Ignorance solves no problems, is not enlightened, nor safe, nor just, nor kind. However, ignorance can be overcome by knowledge.

It is difficult for an entire society to learn that speaking forthrightly is not vulgar in itself; rather, it is merely expressing factual information in an unashamedly straightforward manner. We need to be delivered from our old inadequate ways of conversing and learn to speak with one another in new non-judgmental ways about sexual health and well-being.

Although many American people and even our US government sometimes tend to ignore it, adolescents have a fundamental human right to accurate and comprehensive sexual health information.

The lesson plans in Positive Images have content that reflects the latest in sexual health and explicit instructions for presentations to which adolescents can relate. So, both the content and style of presentations are solid, complete and effective.

Parents, teachers, clergy, sex educators and everyone who is around adolescents as well as adolescents themselves can benefit from having the actual facts. Sometimes we tend to rely on “beliefs” without the knowledge that facts provide. Beliefs are fine, but they do not replace factual information in the education of all our society.

Adolescents confront many issues as they mature into adulthood, not the least of which is their sexuality. No matter what adults say, the hormonal imperative says, “YES!” The sexual drive is not coolly reasoned away nor decreased by demanding it to be gone. Rather it is a normal part of the natural human body and human development.

While many American adults cringe at simply seeing the words “adolescent” and “sexuality” paired together, adolescent hormones proceed with their relentless takeover of youthful thought and, often, action. Children and adolescents need to know what is happening in their bodies. When children experience puberty, natural intensification of sexual feelings soon follows. The median age of onset of puberty is 11.6 years, the mean age of initiation of sexual intercourse is 17 years, and the mean age of first marriage is 26 years.

It is vital that young people know that they are sexual beings from birth to death. They may be amazed to learn that their sexuality will last their entire lifetime. So, it occurs in stages of development which they can learn about and look forward to. If sexuality is taught as a normal developmental and aging process, then we can all relax a bit and just teach sexuality as we teach everything else that young people need to know as they prepare to become successful, well-adjusted and happy adults.

I like to remind adolescents and adult educators of the 3 Ps of Sex, “Procreation, Prevention and Protection,” while remembering that sexuality is about much more than an act of sex.

The facts of sexual health for adolescents are important. However, to get these life-saving facts across to adolescents in ways to which they can relate is a trickier proposition, and I think this book pulls that off.

Introduction to Positive Images: Teaching about Contraception

In 1986 Carolyn Cooperman and Peggy Brick wrote Positive Images, a manual promoting a new approach to contraceptive education. The lessons were designed to empower people to take control of their reproductive lives by providing learning experiences that encourage conscious decision-making and integrate contraceptive use into the ideology of love, relationships and sexuality. The authors’ deep understanding of young people and their insight regarding how adults can support young people in their growth toward sexual health are an important part of this new edition.

Positive Images has been successful. Thousands of copies are in use throughout the United States, in Australia, Canada, England, Ghana, New Zealand, and Zimbabwe; thousands of educators have revised the way they teach about contraception; numerous agencies, schools and colleges have utilized our skill-based strategies in developing their own curricula, and Carolyn’s innovative “Condom Lineup” has become a classic in HIV/AIDS prevention education. However, this positive approach to teaching about contraception remains atypical in a society that is reluctant to provide healthful alternatives to abstinence for young people.

This edition of Positive Images continues the tradition of creating positive images of contraception and of people who use it to have control of their lives and their futures. It includes abstinence from intercourse as a viable choice for anyone at anytime  and integrates that choice in developing the attitudes, values and skills that are crucial for making responsible decisions regarding sexuality throughout life.

This edition continues to address the social attitudes about sexuality that result in teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in the United States that are double those in other developed nations. It is based on the conviction that positive attitudes about one’s own sexuality are fundamental to sexual health and essential to making self-enhancing decisions about one’s own behaviors. It also addresses issues that are of increasing importance for the sexual health of young people in today’s world. The fact that many teen pregnancies are fathered by adult men; the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, which must be integrated into decisions about contraception; and the alarming growth of the world’s population, which may impact on personal family planning decisions.

This manual is based on the conviction that young people have a right and a need to understand their sexuality. It provides opportunities for them to examine personal decisions within historical, social, and ethical contexts and promotes their development into sexually healthy adults.

“What an excellent book to help people learn about adolescent sexual health!”
M. Joycelyn Elders, MD
15th U.S. Surgeon General

Positive Images is a valuable resource for any educator looking to implement interactive and fun approaches to teaching about contraception and sexual health. The activities in this manual incorporate important information, values and skills into fun and engaging activities that are sure to appeal to young audiences. Positive Images would make a terrific addition to any collection of sexuality education resources.”
Leslie M. Kantor, MPH

“The beauty of Positive Images is that sexuality educators can turn to lessons that are well thought out in terms of student learning objectives, scientifically accurate, and sensitive to diverse audiences. Educators don’t have to create original lessons but rather can choose from and/or adapt those provided. Such a curricular handbook is so essential for effective teaching. Knowing that experts have created, reviewed, and tested the lessons should be a support to those working with young people in a variety of educational settings.”
Jean Levitan, PhD
Retired Professor, William Paterson University

Positive Images provides educators with a toolbox that is exceptionally full of lessons that help participants gain information that can impact their sexual health now and in the future.”
Konstance McCaffree, PhD, ACSE, CFLE
International Sexuality Consultant

“Sex educators will love this book for the carefully designed teaching options it presents that are sure to grab the students’ interests and increase their knowledge about the key areas that make up contraception and sexual health. The 4th edition of this popular book has up-to-date references that the teacher or the students can consult for a deeper knowledge of each area discussed. The authors take a positive approach to sexuality that goes beyond just a list of the risks involved and they discuss the pleasures and joys that sexuality can involve. The broad acceptance of viewpoints in this book will allow students to more fully understand different sexual feelings and views and better understand the different choices that they and others may make in the area of contraception and sexual health. I highly recommend this book. Teachers who use it will make a significant difference in the lives of their students.”
Ira L. Reiss, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Minnesota

Positive Images is the most effective resource I’ve run across to help people integrate healthy sexuality into their already complex lives. Use this book for trusted, well-resourced guidance for helping teens, young adults, and people of all ages to make healthy decisions about the key role sexuality plays in their lives.”
Wayne C. Shields
President & CEO of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

“Positive Images is jam-packed with information, and is an accessible, user-friendly resource that makes teaching and learning fun!”
P. Michele Sugg, MSW, LCSW, CST

“I love the variety of lessons, and how inclusive and respectful of the learners they are! The focus on developing and practicing communication skills is excellent, and the lessons are just plain fun to do! Using Positive Images I know my students will see themselves represented respectfully and accurately in the lessons. That will make it easier for them to learn essential information and skills, and they will have fun doing it. The lessons are engaging, enlightening, and enjoyable.”
Al Vernacchio, MSEd
Author, For Goodness Sex

Download a free lesson plan here.

Positive Images: Teaching About Contraception

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