Sex education is a divisive topic depending on where one lives. In the democratic and liberal societies of the West, it is a normal subject that is taught in school. For some people, it is healthy and normal to discuss sex and sexuality with children. To many others, it is a taboo topic that the child must learn by chance and move on in life.
What is at stake?
Where sex education is operational, the most important question is whether it is working. Where it has been rejected, the main issue is whether there is sense in disallowing it. Eventually, it is the well-being of children and the entire society that are at stake.
What informed the debate on sex education?
In the year 2008, Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a quarter of American teenagers had Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and the same can be said of main youngsters on the globe.
Daily serving of sex and indecency
In addition, the media and film industry have made sex part of every meal for the family. Unless one is watching a nature documentary or a religious program, there is no way to avoid denotative and connotative aspects of sex. Often this occurs when the mother, father and children are seated together. The fact is that if you don’t tell your child about sex, someone else will and the information may be transmitted in a manner that you may not like.
Is it working?
If sex education’s only aim was to ensure teenagers were informed about pertinent issues, then it has succeeded. However, if this approach was aimed changing behavior, and to help young people engage in responsible sex (if they chose to), then it has failed. Consider, for example, the case of the US which has one of highest birth rates among teenagers, yet its young people are well-informed about sex.
Is it worth trying?
In Africa, Asia and Meddle East, where sex is a taboo subject, sex education is rare in schools. Some Christian denominations and Islam do not advocate for this type of curriculum. Contraceptive use is frowned upon if not prohibited by religion. Parents cannot talk to their children about it because of cultural norms. Unsurprisingly, these are some of the areas with the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Africa.
It’s time to rethink sex education in terms of its necessity and efficacy depending on where one comes from.