Dr. Alok Sharma, MD, DHA, MICOG

Is Sex Education Effective?

Yes, sex education is effective for the teenagers. Studies have shown that comprehensive sex education can benefit young adolescence considerably. Educating the teenagers about sex assists them to deal with peer pressure and teaches them the art of communication and negotiation. It makes them more confident and gives them assertive skills, crucial in their dealings with peers. 

Some people consider that sex-education and the information provided in it may liberate the adolescence and make them indulge in sexual activities more frequently. However, several studies have shown that this is not true. Sex education does not make teenagers more promiscuous and it does not increase their indulgence in sexual intercourse. On the contrary, it delays the age at which adolescence may experiment with sex.

The age of modernisation and progress has virtually opened a Pandora’s Box of opportunities and choices for youth today. This makes the need for sex education among the youth necessary. The youngsters are unpredictable and the risk-taking streak makes them more vulnerable.

As far as sex education for youth is concerned, one does see an obvious increase in unwanted teen pregnancies, miscarriages, abortions and spread of STDs. This statistical evidence also proves how unaware the youth are in terms of risking their lives. Precautionary measure is the need of the hour. One must know how to tackle the restlessness of the youth and channelise their energies to a more meaningful direction. Sex education will also expose them to their gender identity, family responsibility, body images, sexual expression, intimacy and the marriage relationship.

  • Introducing sex education in school curriculum. This might be implemented in private and government schools with a carefully knitted syllabus covering all the aspects of sex education for youth.
  • Various risky behaviours among youth, such as forced sex, indulging in pornography, physical abuse can lead to early pregnancies. This should form the vital part of the curriculum helping the youth to understand the unethical and inhuman aspect of such behaviours.
  • It should also provide the knowledge of contraceptives and the difference between various contraception methods, such as morning pills, contraceptives, condoms and finally abortion. This should also include the time duration for taking these precautions. Many girls from varied age groups do not have access to this information and give birth to stillborn babies or even encounter death.
  • Colleges and schools can hold debates and discussions on the importance of sex education and sensitise teachers and students.
  • A major section of the Indian society lives below the poverty line, therefore, in order to attract the attention of this social stratum, alternate methods of education must be approached. Film screenings and visual media showing the intensity of STDs and life-taking diseases are a few suggestions. Apart from that, free health camps should also be set up that supply condoms and regular health checkups for the underprivileged.
  • Make the youth understand, through intensive training programmes, the importance of self worth. Random sexual acts can cause irreparable damage to the human body. Every individual should learn to understand the worth of life.
  • Another important point within sex education is to teach the youth about personal hygiene.
  • The youth must not allow the generation gap they have with their parents come in the way. Consultation with parents, guardians or trusted authorities can be the best way to put one’s anxieties to rest.
  • Prejudice and biases prevent one from understanding the importance of sex education. Every youth must undertake this venture as a responsibility and not just as curriculum.

For healthy growth and development of children, it is important that most of the information on sex and its related topics is imparted by a parent or a peer. But this rarely happens especially in India. Most children in India get most of this information from books, magazines, pornographic websites and various other sources.

Why Sex Education?

With changing times it has become necessary that we impart sex education to our teenagers. The physical and hormonal changes taking place in the body of teenagers make them curious to explore these changes. Added to all this, the increased amount of exposure through television, books, Internet makes them impulsive to try what is forbidden. The ‘sexual arena’ is a hot topic among the adolescence currently and the absence of proper supervision can result in more harm than good.

 Sex Education Teaches the Following Topics:

  • Human anatomy (both of male and female)
  • Human reproduction through sexual intercourse
  • Pregnancy
  • How to practice safe sex
  • Measures for birth control
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhoea, HIV/AIDS, etc.

Several countries in Asia like India have made an effort to incorporate sex education as part of the academic curriculum. This is done with the view that information through proper sources can guide the children better.

Sex Education to the Teens Can Help To:

  • Avoid or decrease the incidence of teenage pregnancies. It makes them aware of the repercussions of teenage pregnancy on their health, education, future, as well as that of the foetus.
  • Stress on self-restraint.
  • Even if they do indulge in sexual activities, the awareness of contraceptive methods, including the use of condoms helps to decrease the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies.
  • Prevent or decrease the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhoea, non-gonoccocal urethritis, pelvic inflammatory disease and syphilis.

In the current scenario, sex education to the teens should be considered as the responsibility of every parent and teacher. Right information can enlighten a teenager regarding the hazards of sexual intercourse and related health problems.  You should make your child conscious of the fact that “it is better to be safe than sorry.” In a country like India where severe social stigma been attached to unwed teen pregnancies, it is important that we have good sex education programs for our teenagers.

Sex Education in Schools

Studies have shown that effective sex education to adolescence in school can increase the age at which they experiment with sex. However, in India sex education in school has yet to be an accepted part of the curriculum and the topic still remains a subject of intense debate.

Certain schools have introduced novel health and hygiene workshops that handle issues like health foods, usage of sanitary napkins, human anatomy and human reproduction. But the education system in India is still has disagreement about conducting workshops and programs within the school premises on sex education.

WHO considers that sex education should be given to all children, who are 12 and above. The increasing incidence of teenage pregnancies and HIV in India makes it important that we give our children sex education, so that they get the right information rather than misconception.

Parents and Sex Education

There are few conservative elements of the society that consider that sex education to our children in the schools and from parents would make them more liberated and increase their indulgence in sexual activities. But the increasing rate of teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV has made this an important issue to be considered.

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