Sex education, or sexuality education, is the process of obtaining information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships, and intimacy. It is also a term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, reproductive health, emotional connections, and other aspects of human sexual behavior. It is generally accepted that young people have the right to be educated about sex. While growing up, they may be exposed to various attitudes and beliefs about sex and sexuality. Some of the information available to these young people can sometimes be contradictory and confusing. The media can promote that being sexually active makes a person mature and confident.
And on the other hand, some health messages always emphasize the bad effects of having sex, like contracting sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, etc. This difference of opinion can confuse people. Therefore, sex education should include:
- Finding out what young people know about sex.
- Adding to their existing knowledge.
- Correcting any misinformation.
People get information about sex from various sources. It can be through the media, friends, parents, schools, and health institutions. It has become part of the curriculum in schools around the world. Said to be formal or informal, depending on the source. It is casual if the source comes from parents, friends, religious leaders, ordinary conversations, or the media. When offered by a school or health care provider, it is called “formal.”
Sex education goals
The basic aim of sex education is to reduce the risk of negative consequences from risky sexual behavior. It is a means by which young people learn and adopt the right attitude towards sex. It aims to inform people about the dangers of risky sexual behavior that can lead to unwanted teenage pregnancies and the contraction of sexually transmitted infections like HIV, among other complications. It helps young people have a positive mindset about their sex and sexuality. It helps to improve the relationships between young people. It also empowers young people against sexual harassment.
When Should Sex Education Begin?
While it is generally accepted that young people have the right to learn about sex, it remains a controversial issue in some countries, especially about how children should start receiving such education. At what age can children understand the concepts taught during sex education? Should it be delayed until people are sexually active before they are exposed? Or should it be taught to children to use the information later on when they may need it? When taught at an early age, does it encourage young people to have sex? People worry that providing information about sex and sexuality arouses curiosity and can lead to sexual experimentation.
Contrary to that, research shows that sexuality education does not increase sexual activity, and it either reduces sexual activity or increases the rate of condom use. Therefore, it should be given to young people before puberty and upwards before they form their pattern of behavior. The appropriate age should depend on young people’s physical, emotional, and intellectual development and their level of information.
Curriculum for Sex Education
The amount of information that should be provided to adolescents during sex education is still highly controversial. The content is often different in schools in other countries. People have different opinions and beliefs about sex, which usually affects their willingness to receive sex education because what is being taught may conflict with their moral inclinations. For example, the Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes any form of artificial contraception. On the issue of sex education, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation entitled Familiaris consortio, instructs parents “to give their children a clear and subtle education” and that “if ideologies contrary to the Christian faith are taught in schools,
In India, the state government’s efforts to introduce sex education as a mandatory part of the school curriculum have often been met with strong criticism from those who claim it is against Indian culture and will mislead children. In England and Wales, it is not mandatory in schools as parents can refuse to let their children take part in lessons. In some countries, parents must consent before their children can attend the classes. This variation in various regions is believed to have arisen because of the prolonged controversy regarding sex education curricula.
Various topics are usually covered in sex education lessons depending on the laws in the area. Some of these include:
Male and female reproductive systems.
Adolescent physical and emotional changes
The process of growing up The
The dangers of sexual violence
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Safe sex/condom use
Resisting peer pressure
Harassment of women
Teenage pregnancy, among others.
Some feel that sex education curricula break pre-existing concepts of modesty and encourage acceptance of immoral practices. Many religions teach that sex outside of marriage is corrupt, and their adherents prefer abstinence-based sex education alone. For this reason, homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people, and other sexual orientations or practices considered immoral are often overlooked in sex education classes. There is even a lack of discussion about safer sex practices for manual, oral, and anal sex regarding the risks involved. Such methods are becoming more common among young people, and many indulge in them, believing they are risk-free. Ignoring such complex issues can end up causing harm to the affected individuals. Therefore, sex education should adopt a non-judgmental approach in dealing with sensitive issues about sex. People who provide sex education have their attitudes and beliefs about sex and sexuality, but they mustn’t allow this to negatively affect the sex education they provide.