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Sexual PressuresSexual-Pressures

  • Subject: Social/Emotional Health
  • |
  • Grade(s): 6-8
  • |
  • Duration: Three to four class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


By the end of these lessons, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the sexual pressures among teen youth.
2. Create personal approaches to questions addressing sexual behavior.
3. Practice skills in speaking and listening as tools for learning.
4. Apply basic skills of logic and reasoning.


Paper, pens, pencils
Sexual Pressures Key Words handout
Sexual Pressures The Truth handout
Access to research materials


1. Middle School is a tough time for kids sexually. By the sixth grade they are beginning to explore their own sexuality and sexual identity. They are often confused by and unprepared for a society filled with sexual messages, pressures and dangers:
  • They feel pressure to laugh at sex jokes even though they are embarrassed by them.
  • Television glorifies sex, but middle schoolers are still a little scared by it.
  • They may not want to engage in the latest "booty dancing" craze at the next school dance ? but they feel pressure from their friends.
  • Boys pop girls' bra straps in the hall. Girls aren't sure whether to be glad someone is flirting with them or whether to be offended.
  • In cyberspace, kids can access pornographic sites or flirt with virtual "friends" on the Internet.
Where do middle schoolers draw the line? How do they develop a healthy respect for their own sexuality and the sexuality of others? What is appropriate? How do they say no to pressure? When are they in danger? What are the boundaries?

Sexual Pressures teaches kids how to establish boundaries, respect themselves, and respect others in a world filled with sexual messages, pressures and dangers that are sometimes confusing and difficult to navigate.

For the introductory overview of this lesson click on play to view Sexual Pressures: PLAY(download the free realplayer)

Explain to your students that the purpose of this exercise is to help kids face these issues and begin a dialogue with their parents. They will look at how they want their parents to talk to them about sex? This is a chance for them to set the rules on what is talked about and how. This assignment particularly looks at how issues such as personal behavior and emotions are addressed. Talking about the moral issues around sex are probably some of the hardest for young people, as well as their parents, to address. Students can begin to learn how to face sexual pressures through opening the dialogue.

2. Formulating Questions and Answers
  1. Students will divide into groups of 4 to 5 students.


  2. Students should be directed to begin mini discussions addressing sex and morality issues such as a person's emotions, temptations and behavior. Their task is to record key questions that are derived from these discussions. Students should have at least 8 to 10 questions to present to the class.

    Sample Questions:

    What is the difference between love and sex?
    What are some ways to express love without sex?
    What are some things to think about before you decide to have sex?
    What are some feelings someone might feel after having sex?
    How do you deal with peer pressures?
    What are some things that might tempt someone to consider having sex?
    Does dancing promote sex? Does dress promote sex?
    What do you think is sexual harassment?
    What is date rape?

    Note: Some questions may include topics like taking sexual precautions (contraceptives), sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and parenthood. Although these types of questions are important to touch on, they are not what this assignment is about. Students need to focus on the emotional impact of sex and the types of temptations that are out there.


  3. The next step is for the groups to formulate and record answers to the questions they have developed. The students' questions will most likely have been answered according to their feelings. If access to research materials is available, have the students also research answers to the questions to validate the ones they have written.


  4. Finally, while working in their groups, students can define the key vocabulary words addressing the topics around sex. See attached copy of the teacher's version with definitions. Use the attached handout Sexual Pressures Key Words as the student worksheet for the vocabulary exercise.
3. Role Play -"Parent Talk"
  1. Each group will choose two to three students from their group to role-play a "parent talk" about sex. One to two students will play the "parent(s)" and the other the "child".
  2. The students will then role-play a parent/child "talk" about sex by using the questions their group discussed. This "talk" can take the approach of the child asking the parent questions or parent to child. Students should try to play both scenarios.

    It will be important that this talk is looked upon as somewhat serious. What we want students to learn from this exercise is how they would like their parents to address and respond to questions about sex.

  3. After each role-play activity, have the rest of the class discussonly what was effectiveabout the "talk" they just experienced. Do not allow students to give negative feedback or critique role-play activities. These "effective" points might be the way a question was asked or answered, body language or approach used. Write these points on the board. After all of the groups have had a chance to perform, go over the points you have written down with the class. Have them write these points down for their personal notes.


  4. Suggest to your students that they use the list of questions and the key points to help them discuss the issues of sex with their parents.

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Groups of younger students may focus on three key questions that relate to sex and the morality issues around sex. These questions can derive from class discussion. After groups have come up with supported answers to these questions, they can then choose to role-play their "parent talks" expressing the group's findings. With some class discussion, sum up effective "parent talk" tactics used.
Have older students take this assignment to a different level. Those students who did not get to role-play the "parent talk" will now role-play a "student to student" talk. One student will take the role of sharing information with their peer and the other receiving that information. Students will learn how this talk is different from the "parent talk."

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Discussion Questions

1. How do you want parents to address sex issues with you?
2. How is talking about sex with your parents different from talking about sex with your friends?
3. What do you think it means to be sexually responsible?
4. Is being sexually responsible cool or not cool?
5. Why do some teens have sex?

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Students may be evaluated by using the following three-point rubric:
  • Three points: student has followed all given instructions with full participation in group and class discussions. Students have thoroughly completed their group work and presented role-play scenario to the class.
  • Two points: student has had some participation in group and class activities. They have completed group work and have participated in role-play activity.
  • One point: student has completed portions of the assignment with limited group and class involvement.

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"Sexual Pressures" (PSA Campaign)
Working in small groups, students can develop a Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign addressing teen sex issues. These PSAs should focus on the emotional impact of sex and the peer pressures and temptations kids face. Students should make a visual of their PSA, such as, a poster with slogan, pamphlet, TV advertisement, etc. The groups should create a message that is directed to a teen audience. Groups can then share their PSA campaigns with the class through oral presentation or have groups hang or post their PSAs around the room allowing the other students to see their work and their message.

Sex Statistics
Breaking into small groups, have students work on specific topics (one topic per group) such as sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptives, abstinence, teen pregnancy/parenthood, sexual harassment and any other related sex issues. Through their research, have each group develop a "sex statistics" sheet concentrating on their topic. Using their creativity and imagination, students will then write these "sex statistics" in a handout form for distribution for the rest of the class. They need to keep in mind that, although these are factual statistics, they need to catch the reader's interest and attention.

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Suggested Readings

"Sexual Bullying: Gender Conflict and Pupil Culture in Secondary Schools"
Neil Duncan, September 1999
Sexual Bullying: Gender Conflict in Pupil Culture draws together a number of theories on gender, adolescent behavior and schooling to examine the social processes at work in four comprehensive schools.

"Like It Is: A Teen Sex Guide"
E. James Lieberman, Karen Lieberman Troccoli, September 1998
This book is an intelligent and candid sex guide for teens. It provides information about contraceptives, as well as offering ideas for discussion and curriculum for educators and parents. It also includes an appendix for those seeking additional information on birth control.

"What Parents Need to Know About Dating Violence: Learning the Facts and Helping Your Teen"
Barrie Levy, Patricia Griggans, June 1995
This book offers information, advice, and real-life stories from parents and teens. It is a guide to dealing with dating violence; and it discusses how to teach teens to protect themselves and build healthy relationships, describes resources available, and addresses special situations.

"Sex Is More Than A Plumbing Lesson: A Parents' Guide to Sexuality Education for Infants Trough the Teen Years"
Patty Stark, December 1990
This book was written to assist parents who want to teach their kids about human sexuality but who aren't sure how to go about it, and who want some help addressing issues such as helping kids feel good about their bodies, helping kids postpone risky sexual behaviors, creating atmospheres where sex is easily discussed, and more.

"The Big Talk: Talking to Your Teen About Sex and Dating"
Laurie Langford, October 1998
The unique thing about Ms. Langford's approach is that she writes from her own childhood memories?from the perspective of what she wishes she'd been told by her parents. This makes her words powerful-especially for parents of teenagers.

"Kids Still Having Kids: Talking About Teen Pregnancy"
Janet Bode, Stanley Mack, Ida Marx Blue Spruce, May 1999), Young Adult
This book provides a valuable resource for young adults making decisions about pregnancy, as well as those researching the issue for school projects. This completely updated book contains interviews with pregnant teens, boyfriends' families, health-care workers, and counselors. A lively design, which includes cartoon strips and snippets from current newspaper and magazine articles, adds to the dynamic presentation.

"No Apologies: The Truth About Life, Love & Sex"
August, 1999, Young Adult
Teens get the facts about sex in No Apologies: The Truth about Life, Love and Sex , an exciting book that highlights abstinence as the only true safe sex. With gripping testimonies from real people, teens discover how others have been affected by choices of premarital sex and abstinence.

"It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health"
Robie H. Harris, Michael Emberley, February 1996, Ages 9-12
It's Perfectly Normal is well-presented and clear for the young reader. It is broken into easily-understood sections with numerous captions and illustrations that allow even those less skillful readers to understand the most important information.

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American Social Health Association
Founded in 1914, the American Social Health Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping sexually transmitted diseases and their harmful consequences to individuals, families and communities.

Not Me, Not Now
In 1994, Monroe County launched Not Me, Not Now, a multifaceted abstinence-only campaign to reduce the teen pregnancy rate in Monroe County. An advertising campaign serves as the centerpiece of Not Me, Not Now. The campaign, which features children, communicates the consequences of teenage pregnancy and motivates teens to remain abstinent.
As part of the American Social Health Association (ASHA), the Web site is designed specifically for teenagers with the purpose to provide a safe educational and fun place for teenagers to learn about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and their sexual health. The ASDA is a nonprofit organization whose mission for more than eight decades has been to stop sexually transmitted diseases and their harmful consequences to individuals, families and communities.

Children Now
Children Now is a nonpartisan, independent voice for children, working to translate the nation's commitment to children and families into action. Children Now uses research and mass communications to make the well being of children a top priority across the nation. Publishers of the booklet "Talking With Kids About Tough Issues."

Talking With Kids About Tough Issues
Talking With Kids About Tough Issues is a National initiative byChildren Nowand theKaiser Family Foundationto encourage parents to talk with their children earlier and more often about tough issues like sex, HIV/AIDS, violence, alcohol, and drug abuse.

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    Love
Definition: an intense emotional attachment
Context: A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance. A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attraction qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.

speaker    Sex
Definition: The property or quality by which organisms are classified as female or male on the basis of their reproductive organs and functions. Females or males considered as a group.
Context: The sexual urge or instinct as it manifests itself in behavior ? activities associated with sexual intercourse.

speaker    Tease
Definition: to annoy or make fun of someone persistently
Context: To arouse hope, desire, or curiosity in without affording satisfaction. A preliminary remark or act intended to whet the curiosity.

speaker    Flirting
Definition: to make playfully romantic or sexual overtures
Context: Flirting is a playful behavior intended to arouse sexual interest.

speaker    Temptations
Definition: the act of tempting or the condition of being tempted
Context: The desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid. Temptation is the act of influencing by exciting hope or desire.

speaker    Harassment
Definition: to irritate or torment persistently
Context: Harassment is a feeling of intense annoyance caused by being tormented. This tormenting is caused by continued persistent attacks and criticism. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, which violates the civil rights act of 1964.

speaker    Rape
Definition: to force another person to submit to sex acts
Context: Rape is the crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially intercourse. It is the act of seizing and carrying off by force (abduction) and/or abusive or improper treatment.

speaker    Contraception
Definition: the prevention of unwanted pregnancy
Context: When using contraception, you are using a device, drug, or chemical agent that prevents conception

speaker    Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Definition: A disease, such as genital herpes, gonorrhea, HIV or chlamydia, whose usual means of transmission is by sexual contact.
Context: Individuals can catch an STD only from an infected sexual partner. Therefore, the more partners they have, the greater their risk of coming in contact with an infected person. People should know that it is easy to contract during intimate sexual contact and STD's such as Gonorrhea and syphilis can be transmitted through oral sex. So, you do not need to be engaged in sexual intercourse to contract one.

speaker    AIDS
Definition: a serious (often fatal) disease of the immune system transmitted through blood products especially by sexual contact or contaminated needles
Context: A severe immunological disorder caused by the retrovirus HIV, resulting in a defect in cell-mediated immune response that is manifested by increases susceptibility to opportunistic infections and to certain rare cancers, especially Kaposi's sarcoma. It is transmitted primarily by venereal routes or exposure to contaminated blood or blood products.

speaker    Emotional
Definition: of or relating to emotion
Context: When someone is readily affected with or stirred by emotion. Arousing or intending to arouse the emotions of a person. Pertaining to, or characterized by, emotion; excitable; easily moved; sensational; as, an emotional nature

speaker    Moral
Definition: concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character
Context: Exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior. Morals are rules or habits of conduct, especially of sexual conduct, with reference to standards of right and wrong.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Language Arts
Demonstrates competence in the general skill and strategies of the writing process
Prewriting: Uses a variety of prewriting strategies (e.g., making outlines, uses published pieces as writing models, constructs critical standards, brainstorms, builds background knowledge)
Writes in response to literature (e.g., anticipates and answers a reader's questions, responds to significant issues in a log or journal, answers discussion questions, writes a summary of a book, describes an initial impression of a text, connects knowledge from a text with personal knowledge)

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Language Arts
Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning
Plays a variety of roles in group discussions (e.g., active listener, discussion leader, facilitator)
Asks questions to seek elaboration and clarification of ideasBenchmark:
Listens in order to understand a speaker's topic, purpose, and perspectiveBenchmark:
Conveys a clear main point when speaking to others and stays on the topic being discussedBenchmark:
Presents simple prepared reports to the class

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Health
Knows environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health
Understands how various messages from the media, technology, and other sources impact health practices (e.g., health fads, advertising, misconceptions about treatment and prevention options)Benchmark:
Understands how peer relationships affect health (e.g., name calling, prejudice, exclusiveness, discrimination, risk-taking behaviors)

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Health
Understands the relationship of family health to individual health
Knows how communication techniques can improve family life (e.g., talking openly and honestly with parents when problems arise

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Health
Understands the functional concept of growth and development
Knows the similarities and differences between male and female sexuality
Understands the processes of conception, prenatal development, and birth

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Life Skills (Thinking and Reasoning)
Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument
Makes basic distinctions between information that is based on fact and information that is based on opinion

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Life Skills (Thinking and Reasoning)
Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning
Understands that personal values influence the types of conclusions people make

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Life Skills (Thinking and Reasoning)
Applies decision-making techniques
Identifies situations in the community and in one's personal like in which a decision is required
Secures factual information needed to evaluate alternatives
Makes decisions based

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CWK Network
Connecting with Kids provides television programming and products focused on the health, education, and well-being of children and young adults. To contact CWK Network, write to Lee Scharback at

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