“Regarding Sex Education: No Secrets!”
Sex education is the teaching of issues related to sexual activities of human beings. It is a very comprehensive educational requirement which continues throughout the lifetime of an individual and covers aspects of sexuality, abstinence, consent, reproductive rights, protection of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) through contraceptive methods and general principles and attitudes about sex. Situations like unwanted teen pregnancy and other problems related to sexual matters call for the exigent need of sex education in schools despite the resisting factors like social taboo which leads to defiance in both students as well as parents. Also, other resisting factors like lack of proper implementation and considering sex education as a wrong exposure should be addressed while making a proper policy regarding the same so that sex education serves its real purpose. It should be ensured that it is properly enforced in schools and children benefit out of it in an optimum manner.
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) and unwanted teen pregnancies are one of the biggest reasons as to why sex education should be imparted in schools itself. The adolescents in India lack knowledge about important facts related to STIs like symptoms, signs, preventions. A survey was conducted in Delhi which proved that almost one-third of the students lacked proper information about STIs. Furthermore, in regards to HIV, while adolescents know about it, they don’t have a complete understanding of it. Another survey from Delhi identified that while almost all the students knew about HIV, they lacked the basic understanding of issues related to HIV such as prevention, proper treatment guidelines etc.
National Family Health Survey of India suggests that only 36% of male and 20% of female amongst all the adolescents surveyed have complete information about HIV/ AIDS. Likewise, other studies also showed incomplete knowledge among adolescents about these sensitive issues. Also, there are a lot of instances of teenage pregnancy in India. The main cause of teenage pregnancy is the lack of comprehensive sex education which makes students informed about the right age, proper methods, precautions etc. Statistics show that imparting of comprehensive sex education helps reduce the instances of unwanted teenage pregnancy. In a study done at a national level, it was established that unmarried young women who received proper sex education knew about birth control and use of contraceptives and thereby prevented unwanted pregnancy. Also, many developed countries have a better knowledge of birth control and contraception and thereby the prevalence of teen pregnancy is lesser.
Child Sexuality is yet another prominent issue which calls for an urgent need of sex-education when children are not fully aware of all the important facts related to sexuality, then they go on to commit mistakes and not identify wrongful acts committed against them to be so. “National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Maryland, USA’s 2014 study says that India has the largest number of child sexual abuse cases in the world. The study claims that for every 155th minute a child, less than 16 years, is raped, for every 13th hour a child under 10. One in every 10 children is sexually abused once in their lifetime. In India, every second child is being exposed to one or the other form of sexual abuse and every fifth child faces critical forms of it.” (Sharma, 1970) Various kinds of physical and mental changes in children start appearing with puberty and sexual development begins much earlier than that.
Most of the children find it strange or difficult to cope up with the changes and grow up with curiosity filled up in their minds. The small things about sex and its various conceptions develop a vast network of thoughts in a child’s mind and he begins to think about them deeply, sometimes these things even lead to a situation of neurosis in the child. The children also show a strange attitude towards non-normative genders if they are not made aware of the fact that this is a normal phenomenon. Surveys indicate that on an average a child watches TV for 2 hours a day and spends a lot of his or her time on a mobile phone. Sometimes, a child gets to see some explicit sex scenes, internet pornography and some indecent and vulgar videos. They all sexually stimulate youngsters and in absence of sound knowledge about sex, they commit mistakes which result in unwanted pregnancies, HIV-positive cases and other sexually transmitted diseases. This problem is aggravated even further as modernization has led to children getting more open about things like dating at a young age, pornography, substance abuse; gap with parents is getting increased etc.
For instance, a current report from Pune suggested that teenagers who revealed sexual manhandle, poor association with guardians, STI side effects, and substance use will probably have occupied with early sexual activities. A survey which was sponsored by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India was done by the NGO ‘Prayas’ in association with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund depicted that around 53% of the children in India were sexually abused and more than half of the cases were not reported by children due to fear. Information about sexuality could serve as a vehicle for essential aversion and perhaps counter the rise of some of these issues that are new to the Indian culture, however generally predominant in some western nations. It also prepares them to think about such issues in an informed manner and make correct choices and good decisions in their life related to such matters.
There are many reasons as to why many people of society oppose sex education despite the various pressing needs. Primarily, it is the traditional thinking of society to consider sex a taboo and a defilement process for children. They believe that children are exposed to that information which they shouldn’t be exposed to because they are not ready for such an education. They advocate that children anyway end up getting such an education gradually as they grow up. In addition to that many people doubt the proper implementation of sex-education and fear the negative impact of it on children. Some people tend to think that it shouldn’t be openly talked about in schools and parents should be the one who deals with it.
Likewise, there are many opposing arguments against the implementation of sex education in schools but what the people who oppose sex education fail to understand is that sex is the primal sacrament of love, life and beauty upon which all the children should be educated and should be made to think about this biological phenomenon in a right manner so that they deal with it in a right manner. Although there is a possibility of all these consequences feared upon by groups who go against sex education but if defiant attitude remains in the children, then they learn about it from other sources like social media, friends etc. instead of reliable sources like their elders and it can have far more dangerous consequences.
All the arguments mentioned so far make this point very clear that sex education is the need of the hour and therefore it must be implemented in all the schools. Also, parents should talk with their children more often to give them a feeling of reassurance and build trust in the family. General education should be coupled with a purely scientific form of sex education in the school by well-qualified teachers who would tell children about these issues without any kind of shame or stigma and get things clear in the mind of students. For the purpose of such education, classes can also be divided on the basis of the gender so that students can safely discuss anything that pops up in their head without any kind of hesitation. Lastly, some governmental and non-governmental organizations and other social institutions also play a major role in developing such form of education in various ways such as by sensitization programs, workshops, seminars etc. “Only in a scheme of social reconstruction will the sex problem find its solution; and, whilst pressing for special reforms, we should never lose sight of the ideal which includes and guarantees them, an idea which could be realized within the next few years by honest, courageous thought and determined action” (Watts 1944, 88-96). So, this is how proper sex education for children can be ensured and various problems they would otherwise face if such education is not provided can be solved.
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