September is Sexual Health Awareness Month
September 27, 2021
NEWTON, Kan. (September 27, 2021) – September is Sexual Health Awareness Month. This year’s theme focuses on the violations and abuses of sexual rights in the digital space. The theme is “Turn it on: Sexual health in a digital world.”
“The digital world opens up increased opportunity for connection with others which can be both positive and negative,” says Gail Unruh-Revel, LSCSW, CSAT, CST, coordinator of Prairie View’s Sexual Health Services program. “We must educate our youth and our adult selves on the hazards and potential pitfalls from this ease of access we now all have to one another, to information of all kinds, and to sexual content of all kinds.”
Unruh-Revel encourages adults to provide guidance and boundaries for youth regarding the unlimited availability of sexual content and personal connection. She also says certain adults are more vulnerable as well.
“Those youth and adults with low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness, those who struggle with intense or out of control emotions, histories of abuse, toxic shame, loneliness or with few supports are the most vulnerable to negatives the digital world has to offer,” says Unruh-Revel. She says these individuals would be wise to limit social media involvement in general.
“However, very healthy and fulfilling relationships can be obtained through a balanced approach to using media. A blend of social media with in-person contacts would seem to assist in this balanced approach.”
Sexual health education is key, even with young children. Discussing expected body changes, relational issues around love, and being sexual or non-sexual all requires thoughtful consideration. According to Unruh-Revel, education occurs by modeling healthy communication patterns, discussing appropriate boundary setting and helping youth increase awareness of all that goes into consent and the honoring of boundaries of others. Building the self-esteem of youth by showing them they matter by having frank talks with them does not require perfection.
“We do not have to be perfect at this,” encourages Unruh-Revel. “But it does take effort and willingness to step out of our comfort zone to speak about sexual issues. We need to educate ourselves on the impact of social media messages on our thoughts, feelings, values and behaviors. Having discussions about this is vitally important.”
When it comes to social media, “we need to be responsible adults and guide our youth to be responsible individuals. As we take care to honor others and ourselves, let’s celebrate and embrace our sexual selves,” says Unruh-Revel.
Unruh-Revel will facilitate a conversation about sexual health with local pastors and faith leaders at a virtual meeting Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 12 p.m. For more information about this meeting, call 316-284-6381.
For more information about Prairie View’s Sexual Health Services program, call 800-992-6292 or visit www.prairieview.org.