Sex Education in Learning Institutions
Sex education should be increased in schools in an attempt to curb teenage pregnancy. Sex education is a broad term that refers to the process of obtaining information on human sexual reproduction, sexual anatomy, reproductive health, rights and responsibilities, sexual intercourse and other features of human sexual behavior. It also involves development of people’s skills in making informed decisions on their behaviors and how to act on them. On the other hand, teenage pregnancy refers to pregnancy in under-aged girls or in women who have not yet reached the legal adulthood, which is taken as 21 years of age in many countries in the world.
Objectives of Sexual education
The aim of having sex education in schools, through parents and public health campaigns is to minimize the risk of getting potential negative results from irresponsible sexual behavior. Irresponsible sexual behavior can lead to unplanned pregnancies as well as contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS. In addition, it contributes to development of a positive experience of sexuality among the young people, so as to effectively enhance the quality of their relationships with the opposite sex, and help them make informed life choices (Davidson & Sauerteig, 2009).
Effective sexual education helps in creation of opportunities for the young people to build up on their life skills, therefore goes beyond just giving plain information. Also, it helps the young people to attain negotiation, decision making and listening skills. Moreover, they are able to identify pressure towards them from other people and figure out ways on how to effectively deal with it. Other useful life skills that sex education helps the young people to attain include communication skills, such that they are able to ask for advice and get useful help in this area of their lives (Davidson & Sauerteig, 2009).
The young people are usually exposed to many attitudes and beliefs related to sexuality, most of which are conflicting and confusing. Due to the sensitivity of subject on sexuality, young people and their sex instructors have strong views on what should be morally acceptable in governing people’s behavior. For instance some health messages and the media promote the idea that people who are sexually active are more attractive and mature (Bonner & Williams, 2006). This leads to confusion especially to people who hold conservative views on sexuality and sex. It is prudent for sex educators to hold back their attitudes and beliefs that can negatively influence on the sexual education they provide. For instance, if they believe that sex before marriage is unacceptable, they should not withhold vital information about safer sex to their students. The young people should be provided with information about abortion, confidentiality and respect for oneself, so that they stand a better chance in making informed choices in their lifetime.
Sex education is supposed to start early enough before puberty when young people begin to develop distinguished behavioral patterns and experience physical body changes. Information provided at this age forms a basis in which more complex knowledge is built upon over time. They need to be aware of the changes that occur in their bodies during puberty and what they imply in relation to sexual behavior (Davidson & Sauerteig, 2009). Also information about possible viral attack on their bodies should be provided which forms the basis for talking to them later about sexually transmitted infections.
Teenage pregnancy is a global issue with more prevalence in developing countries especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is usually associated with poverty and vulnerability of the girl child to sexual abuse in third world countries. Adolescent girls fall as immediate prey due to the excitement created by emotional and physical changes occurring in their bodies at this age. They may lack access to important information on prevention of pregnancy at such an early age of their lives, or usually shy away from seeking advice (Rugh, Dillon, & Cherry, 2001).
Alternative definition and views
Nevertheless, there are people who have different views and definitions as far as affirmation of sex education is concerned. They believe that by introducing sex education into the school curriculum, the children are at a risk of engaging in promiscuity and perversion. This is due to the fact that it sparks curiosity of the innocent young person, enticing her to try it out. Also, the information can be ineffective due to lack of enough time to learn the topic in deep. Most of lessons in schools where sexual education is taught are done briefly leaving the students with little information on this subject, which can be very disastrous (Bonner & Williams, 2006).
In most cases teachers are not trained on how to teach sex education properly in schools and may therefore impose their own beliefs rather than sticking on to the raw facts about the subject matter. Additionally, sexual education can go against the religious and moral beliefs of a person. A parent or child should have the right to refuse attending sexual classes in case they feel that their rights have been violated upon (Bonner & Williams, 2006). Alternatively, such parents can consider taking their children to private or religious based schools. While some learning institutions and public health organizations emphasize on using safer sex methods among the teens, many religious bodies and families stress on sex after marriage. Attitudes from parents and religious leaders in the community can also influence the effectiveness of the information exposed to the young people about this subject (Rugh, Dillon, & Cherry, 2001).
Some conservative communities like those found in Africa, withholding information on sexuality and sex has turned out successful in preventing teenage pregnancies. It is considered a taboo to have a teenage girl become pregnant and also a disgrace to the family. Such a girl can only be married to the old men in the village whose women had earlier on died. This instills fear among the young folk in the community, thereby encouraging abstinence until marriage.
Young people mostly get information on sexuality and sex from sources such as friends and the mass media which may not provide correct information. Therefore sex education helps in providing authentic information and removing any misconceptions surrounding the subject. This offers a better and effective method of accessing the right information and subsequently removes negative attitude and behavior towards sexuality. Learning institutions are good avenues for providing sex education since classes are gender exclusive, which removes any embarrassment among shy students (Davidson & Sauerteig, 2009).
Young people have the ability to grasp information, and store it for a long time until the time when they need to apply it later in their lives. Therefore, research has proven that sex education does not entice young people to engage in sexual activity, instead, it results to its reduction among the young people. It also helps them practice safer sex to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections and having unwanted pregnancies. Having the right information will allow the young people to make the right and informed choices without any persuasion (Bonner & Williams, 2006).
For sex education to be effective in schools, it should focus on reducing risky behaviors and always carry underlined message on responsible sexual behavior and risk reduction. It should also employ learning methods that are appropriate to the age of the young people factoring in their cultural backgrounds. Proper training should be provided to sex educators in schools and other avenues through which sexuality education is taught. This will allow them know how to approach the subject with careful consideration of cultural diversity in the learning institutions (Davidson & Sauerteig, 2009).