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Is silence always golden?

Author: Dr. Tilak S Fernando

Daily News Sri Lanka

Original article:

http://www.dailynews.lk/2012/01/16/fea04.asp


Sex education is regarded as a formal instruction on topics linking human sexuality such as anatomy, reproduction, intercourse, abstinence, contraception and numerous human sexual behaviour enwrapping emotional relations and rights and responsibilities. Customary avenues for sex education are parents, school programmes and public health campaigns.

 

When someone automatically gets attracted physically to another, the process is known as human sexuality. It may take place with the opposite sex, same sex or both. In whatever form it takes place, sure it is bound to have an impact on theological, legal, philosophical and/ or moral aspects.

Various theories put forward assume that when an individual reaches puberty natural instincts along with external stimuli influence emotions and thinking among men and women. The study of sexuality also incorporates sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDs and birth control methods.

Promiscuity and immorality

Does sex education to adolescents promote promiscuity and immorality? This is a vital question being debated throughout the world constantly. The young generation today are exposed unnecessarily to health hazards, such as, HIV infection, infertility from untreated sexually transmitted diseases and unsafe abortions because generally parents, national policy makers and world leaders are somewhat hesitant to take stubborn decisions directly due to the sensitive nature of the subject dependant on cultural and ethical beliefs held by different nations.

UK once had over 90,000 per year teenage pregnancies which were recorded as the highest in Europe. According to today’s estimation there are over a million aged between 10-19 the world over and, out of this, at least half of whom will have sex by the age of 16!

For many of these adolescents this period of change from childhood to adulthood is a healthy transition period during which they learn values and skills that will benefit them in the future. But according to various reports the health and lives of a large number of teenagers now and in the coming years are in danger.

Ignorance

Ignorance also plays an important role in this scenario. For example about 90 percent of teenagers to a hot line in Venezuela had assumed that pregnancy could not result from the first time of sexual intercourse. In India up to 80 percent of unmarried young women seeking abortions had not known that pregnancy resulted from sexual intimacies. However, it is encouraging to note that various health organizations, local communities and youth organizations have become a leading source of sexual health information to tackle these issues head on. Success stories include telephone hotlines, websites, walk-in-clinics, peer education, support for parents and positive message via the media.

Global sex education

Egypt teaches knowledge about male and female reproductive systems, sexual organs, contraception and STDs in public schools at the second and third years of the middle-preparatory phase (when students are aged 12–14).

In India, there is a huge debate on the curriculum of sex education as to whether it should be introduced at all. Attempts by state governments to introduce sex education as a compulsory part of the curriculum have often been met with harsh criticism by political parties who claim that sex education 'is against Indian culture' and would mislead children.

Indonesia, Mongolia, South Korea have a systematic policy framework for teaching about sex within schools.

Malaysia and Thailand have assessed adolescent reproductive health needs with a view to developing adolescent-specific training, messages and materials. In Japan, sex education is mandatory from age 10 or 11, mainly covering biological topics such as menstruation and ejaculation.

In China and Sri Lanka, sex education traditionally consists of reading the reproduction section of biology textbooks when they are 17–18 years.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation and the BBC World Service have conducted a 12-part series known as Sexwise, which discussed sex education, family life education, contraception and parenting. It was first launched in South Asia and then extended worldwide.

In Finland, sexual education is usually incorporated into various obligatory courses, mainly as part of biology lessons.

In France, sex education has been part of school curricula since 1973. Schools are expected to provide 30 to 40 hours of sex education, and distribute condoms to students in grades 8 and 9. In January 2000, the French government launched an information campaign on contraception with TV and radio spots and the distribution of five million leaflets on contraception to high school students.

Reproductive system

In Germany, sex education has been part of school curricula since 1970. Since 1992 sex education is by law a governmental duty. In Sweden, sex education has been a mandatory part of school education since 1956. The subject is usually started between ages seven and 10, and continues up through the grades, incorporated into different subjects such as biology and history.

In England and Wales, sex education is not compulsory in schools as parents can refuse to let their children take part in the lessons. The curriculum focuses on the reproductive system, fetal development, and the physical and emotional changes of adolescence.

Many religions teach that sexual behaviour outside of marriage is immoral, so their adherents feel that this morality should be taught as part of sex education. Other religious conservatives believe that sexual knowledge is unavoidable, hence their preference for curricula based on abstinence.

The debate on sex education to children will go on endlessly where one group will endorse it while another opposing stating that it should be left to the family. Critics would argue that sex education represents state interference and the sex education curricula will break down pre-existing notions of modesty and advocate a view point deem immoral, such as homosexuality and pre-marital sex.At a time when promiscuity is fast developing at rocket speed, can we any longer stick to the maxim that ‘Silence is Golden’? Food for thought!

 

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