discussion, education, school, sex

Ineffective Sex Education in Schools

I’m not talking about making students have sex just to make them understand. That’s just plain stupidity. I’m not even talking about the consequences of having (premarital) sex and for girls, getting pregnant. I think everyone knows that – emotional and physical stress, some going through shotgun marriages, abortion blah blah blah.

I’m talking more about the specifics. The things that bother adolescents’ minds. That sense of intimacy about sexual urges. The wants. The needs. The things that are supposed to happen “normal things” like sudden erections and puberty and body image issues. I’m sure some some schools do teach students about these things and reassure students that they are normal. Unfortunately, wishing can only do so much, because I have listened to so many stories about students being uncomfortable in their own skin and they turn to unhealthy sources for information i.e. pornography.

By now, you should realise that I’m really passionate about this subject. Embarrassment aside, we all should take a step back and re-analyse ourselves – appreciate our anatomy, question our doubts, feel confident.

There’s a reason why I wanted to write about this topic today *finally a serious topic*.

So, pretty recently, my sister stopped me in the kitchen to talk about things that bothers her mind. Background check: my sister is currently a teacher in a secondary school where students are in their teens i.e. 13-17 years old. Prior to becoming a full-time teacher, she had an attachment at the same secondary school a few months back, so some students remember her. Of course, familiarity breeds comfort – some students do approach my sister to share their problems and concerns.

In secondary school, many things change and many new things happen. The concept of sex is slowly being reinforced through sex education schools. In Singapore (from what I know of), sex education is mandatory unless parents write a letter explaining the reasons for pulling out their child from the module. I presume that all students should know what sex is, and what premarital sex is.

All the normal things down – what is sex, what is premarital sex, how do you cope with body issues, boy-girl relationships, should you get into a boy-girl relationship… and so on. I would also presume that students know the changes occurring in their bodies as well – more acne, body odour, more hair (facial hair and down under), broader chest, wider hips, menstruation…

But, one day, a male student stopped to talk to my sister. She told me that the boy was clueless and helpless – didn’t know who to consult, so was left to confide in my sister. The boy said something along the lines of…

Cher, I don’t know who to ask but I’ll just ask you. Do you know what’s wrong with me? I keep getting hard-ons. I don’t even think dirty. It just happens. It’s embarrassing.

To be honest, if I were in my sister’s shoes, I would be at a loss. I wouldn’t know how to answer because I don’t take Biology at school. (And I don’t think they teach about this too in the syllabus)

I can’t remember the answer my sister gave to her student, but what I do know is that students are still afraid to question their insecurities. I’m proud of this student for reaching out for help – even though my sister might not have an answer.

But my concern is that… this boy is not the only one out there.

Being forthcoming with students’ doubts is something very difficult to occur. However, it is possible to do so. *just look at the example above* My honest statement about sex education right now is that it is currently an ineffective module at school, and also ridiculed to a whole new extent where students joke about it all the time. Sounds like sex education is one of the most useless subjects ever in the entire 12 years of formal education.

The element of seriousness is not there – jokes may be permitted occasionally if see fit – and that makes the whole subject something not trustworthy to find answer in. So, there’s no basic support for knowledge about human anatomy, sex, intimacy, personal issues and so on… Which causes the student to look answers elsewhere.

Unless these students are good researchers and can find proper authorised websites that answer their queries, most go to the most accessible website for answers – porn sites, sex chats and more. It’s even worse when puberty is hitting ages really early and children are having smartphones with 3G/4G service. So yay(?), free access to these sites?

Nay!

I feel rather old now since my memory has faded regarding my sex education periods at school. However, I don’t think that any teacher or student even discussed about the intimate cycles of females and males. Heck, I doubt that people even talk about penises and ovaries. At most, students use the work “dick” which isn’t even the correct term (the correct one is “penis”) All I can remember are the vague descriptions about menstruation cycles. And no, if my memory haven’t failed me – I doubt that the lessons even talked about pain from menstruation cycles. So that leaves the boys rather clueless about girls/women actually having menstrual cramps!

Actually, I don’t even know a method to solve and break down the inhibitions we have towards sex education. Most parents are rather… closed-up about discussing sexual matters with their children. What about those scenarios where in self-help books, parents coax and gently explain to them about the wonders of human nature… Children becoming much more educated and sophisticated in the matters of their own bodies? Simply non-existent. Those scenarios are ideal, but they aren’t happening so there is obviously a need to educate both parents and children in ways to approach this topic.

Introducing a comfortable discussion platform for students will be a start. All I could remember was that the teachers giggled away, trying not to be embarrassed while talking about such an intimate/sensitive topic. On the other hand, students are guffawing, trying to make bad sexual jokes and snigger at every passing remark towards sex/bgr etc.

While sex education should be gently approached during raw years of primary school, some parents might be going on a rampage and screaming “THEY ARE TOO YOUNG!!”. Thus, secondary school years are the next best phase to educate the young.

Much more importantly, we should cultivate an environment where QUESTIONING is O.K.A.Y. I don’t have a word for each letter so make your own acronym with OKAY. I think there were so many possibilities in questioning and raising my doubts during lesson time, but 1. I was too shy 2. I thought that I was abnormal 3. It was not important.

Being a tech-savvy kid back then (lesser now, unfortunately), I headed to the internet. I found the answers I need which are not from porn sites, mind you. But I know that many others are not as lucky as I am. So all these influences from the web will definitely change the train of thought in children. One wrong track and boom, that kid is going to another destination – most probably the wrong one.

Sure, Sex Education is one of the hardest to approach in terms of cultivating a culture of awareness towards sexuality and its consequences, but disregarding the importance and the sensitivity that may arise is not going to bring the best results (on the contrary, it will bring destructive, harmful outcomes)

I think that Sex Education isn’t about teaching the normal stuffs like what I’ve mentioned before. I feel that developing a sense of awareness for our human nature, appreciating and treasuring the state of our bodies is an outcome worth achieving. It’s not always about the hard facts of sex – and the likes – but also about how we view things. We’ve degraded the importance of Sex Education.

Think about it – if we were to embrace this… phenomena (?), imagine how many abortions would not have happened. Sure, abortions would still happen but on a lesser scale. I’m not talking just about abortion (physical outcomes) but also about our mental health (non-physical outcomes). Imagine one’s self-confidence being lowered because he/she thought that they were abnormal. We’re already living in a period where there is this preset notion about beauty and how one must look to be “accepted into society”.

Let’s not make this worse, shall we?

Update: Watch this video! I watched this a few weeks back and it’s a pretty funny thing to watch. Rather… educational/enlightening too!

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