Sex education is an education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, and other aspects of human sexual behavior. Risky sexual behaviors, such as early sexual debut, premarital sex, multiple partners and bisexual orientation, are increasingly becoming common among young people. So, it is considered important for societies that its individuals are well-informed about sex, sexual practices, child sexual abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.
Effective sex education provides young people with an opportunity to explore the reasons why people have sex, and to think about how it involves emotions, respect for one self and other people and their feelings, decisions and bodies. Young people should have the chance to explore gender differences and how ethnicity and sexuality can influence people’s feelings and options. They should be able to decide for themselves what the positive qualities of relationships are. It is important that they understand how bullying, stereotyping, abuse and exploitation can negatively influence relationships.
Sex education aims to –
- Reduce the risks of potentially negative outcomes from sexual behaviour, such as unwanted or unplanned pregnancies
- Reduce infection with sexually transmitted diseases including HIV
- Contribute to young people’s positive experience of their sexuality by enhancing the quality of their relationships
Common avenues for sex education
Sex education can take place in a variety of settings, both in and out of school.
- Parents or caregivers
- Formal school programs
- Public health campaigns
It is important for sex education to begin at a young age. Giving young people basic information from an early age provides the foundation on which more complex knowledge is built up over time. For example, when they are very young, children can be informed about how people grow and change over time, and how babies become children and then adults, and this provides the basis on which they understand more detailed information about puberty provided in the pre-teenage years. They can also when they are young, be provided with information about viruses and germs that attack the body. This provides the basis for talking to them later about infections that can be caught through sexual contact.
Sex education can be an important and effective way of enhancing young people’s knowledge, attitudes and behavior.
Sex education can help in
- Gaining accurate and authentic information
- Forming attitude and beliefs about sex
- Know the significance of timing and discipline
- Creating healthy sexual identity
- Developing healthy relationships and intimacy
- Developing healthy sexual skills and sexual confidence
- Saving from sexual abuse and exploitation
- Safeguard against sexually transmitted diseases
- Avoiding unwanted pregnancy
- Managing sexual perversions and disorders
- Managing prejudice and peer pressure
- Manage sexual conflicts and sexual risk
Sex education should be positive and proactive
- It should promote better communication
- It should promote questioning and clarifying doubts
- It should promote sex discipline
- It should promote safe and healthy sex habits
- It should promote healthy attitude, beliefs and morals
Core of sex education
Following is the basic core:
- Sexual development and sexual identity
- Reproduction, contraception & birth control
- Sexual relationships
Starting sex education
No age is too early. All that is required is to create content of sex education in a way that suits the age and circumstances of those receiving. Girls should be told about menstruation at about 8 years of age.
How to start?
It can be proactive in which actively information is provided or it can be done by helping a child to ask questions. It should be part of self development, personality development, values and moral development and life skill training. Be specific and matter of fact according to age of child. Do not use alternate terms or vague stories. Do not make it funny. Do not laugh or ridicule. Do not make child feel embarrassed or ashamed. Let the child know that this is natural. Explain the need of modesty and privacy. Try not to make it a lecture but it is better to provide information on day to day moments.
Is sex education harmful or promote sex?
Research has proved that sex education does not promote sexual activity. On the contrary it prevents unhealthy or early sexual activity.
One crucial element to teach is how to become sexually responsible. Sex can be good fun but can do negative as well depending on how one assumes responsibility and discipline. Do not create fear of sex in child mind but provide information about how he or she can stay away from problems and create a happy sexual identity.
Who can provide sex education?
- Social workers
- Doctors and healthcare professionals
- Community based programs
- Specifically designed websites or audio video programs
Challenge of sex education
Unfortunately even in today’s world sex education is a difficult topic. People do not realize that your kids are left to learn sex from unreliable and possibly wrong sources. All sorts of myths and false information creep in. The result is distorted personalities, disturbed relationships and erratic sexual behavior which can even go to the extent of disorder or crime. Why don’t world realize the importance of sex education. It will not harm or push kids towards sex but will only promote sexual discipline. It is high time that the world must accept its responsibility towards children and adolescents.