Chapter 2 historicizes the 1960s and 1970s as period of a radical change with regard to anglophone thinking about childhood and teenage sexuality. This period was dubbed the “second sexual revolution,” a time of intense concern about the earlier onset of puberty, premature sexuality, premarital sex, youth promiscuity, sexually transmitted infections, and “illegitimate” pregnancies. It was also a time of increasing concern about challenges to adult power structures. Calls for universal sex education in schools were being made to avoid what many were forecasting as the impending decline of Western civilization. The chapter takes Australia as a case study of the broader anglophone shift towards school-based sex education programs in Western societies, arguing that the mobilization of fear and shame about comprehensive sex education was a vehicle for advancing several interlinked strategies. On the one hand, it was a means of stimulating community action towards controlling the sexualities of young people, enforcing social and moral norms of sexuality, reaffirming boundaries between children and adults, and buttressing adult power. On the other, it was a way of undermining young people’s claims to sexual agency, autonomy, and knowledge by recasting the teenager as essentially immature, incompetent, and endangered in matters of sex.
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