Review by Amanda Finkelberg, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2012

Sex, Etc.

Reliable, unbiased sex ed site keeps it real for teens

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Teachers say (4 Reviews)
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Grades
8-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Straight-shooting articles and forums speak honestly about tough issues, and extra teacher resources make the site a real hit.

Cons: Much of the content is blog-based and may not be available continuously.

Bottom Line: An engaging and informative destination for sex ed teachers and students.

Backed by Rutgers University, Sex, Etc. offers in-person and online professional development opportunities for teachers who may have never taught sex education before. Online courses address key topics like "Sexuality ABC's (Abstinence, Birth Control and Condoms)" and "LGBTQ Issues in Schools." You can also access courses online for professional development credit. Resources for “parents and professionals” include links to books, websites, and other external resources to assist parents and teachers with sex education. Rutgers provides additional opportunities for webinars and New Jersey-based courses for professional development. Lesson plans are free with a subscription to the Sex, Etc. magazine or can be purchased separately for $1.99 each. You may find inroads with the Action Center, which provides information on sex laws by state as well as information about sexual health issues. Links to petitions, social actions, and other ways to get involved provide opportunities for you and your students to connect the online experience with the real world.

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Sex, Etc. is a sex education site written "by teens for teens" and is home to real stories about kids' lives. Its backbone is the Sex Ed Info Center and its cleverly designed navigation system that lets kids search by topic and filter by media type. Topics include Birth Control, Your Body, and Sex and Relationships, as well as HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ. Each topic contains articles written by teens about the various issues, as well as a FAQ and other resources. Other features include A Conversation Starter, which helps kids figure out how to talk to the people in their lives about hard topics. They'll pick out the person they want to start a conversation with (e.g., partner, friend, parent/guardian) and the topic that they need to address (sex, pregnancy, STD, or coming out), and the tool offers them scripts to follow to get the ball rolling.

No user account is needed to access most of the site's resources like the stories and games, but a login is necessary to post or respond in the forum area. The bulk of the content is in the sex education area and largely consists of rotating stories. One static installation is a dictionary of terms with more than 400 sex-related vocab words, which can also be refined by topic.

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Speaking to teens visually, the site has a clean layout that packs in information without overwhelming. Covering topics kids care about from sex to relationships, the site succeeds at keeping even serious and often awkward conversations light and cool, which will be a relief to teens already reluctant to talk about sex. Another great space is the forum area, where teens can post anonymous questions and replies to sensitive issues and get feedback and "sex expert" responses; pregnancy, STDs, and body concerns are the main fare here. The site is a great supplement for in-school or out-of-school sex education programs.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5
The cool design and youthful feel will draw teens in, and they'll stick around for heartfelt content and real voices in the forums. The Fun section brings levity to a potentially uncomfortable topic.
Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4
Peer-written articles are accessible to teens, and the honest, opinionated tone is bound to engage them. The forum area allows for anonymous socializing and helps teens get answers to their embarrassing questions.
Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3
Information is grouped by topics that can be accessed through a clever navigation bar and further refined by type. The design should be largely intuitive for young people.

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Marisa M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
East-West School of International Studies
Flushing, NY
4
Great breadth and depth of knowledge. Accessible, honest.

I would use this instead of other sources such as Kids Health. Sex, Etc. allows students to have an unbiased source of sex ed information. I love the "state by state" breakdown of Sex Rights and resources for students. Lots of information that students could be afraid to ask adults or each other. Powerful tool for the birth control brochure project in my 9th grade class.

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