Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I've been pondering on a question a friend asked me (about sex education), so I asked around--asked officemates, friends, even people on a live TV talk show--to find the truth (and most of all, what is effective and helpful to society) regarding the matter. And so far, I've collected some good answers that I'd like to share here.
1. We do need sex education, but it should be in the proper context.
The term they use is "age appropriate," but is it, really? From Grade 5 to high school, the youth should be focusing on honing their talents, finding their path and what they want to do when they grow up. This alone keeps their hands full already.
Sex education that focuses on contraceptive use, no matter how many times you stress that it's age appropriate, is a step in the wrong direction. Because here is sex presented as mere recreation, to be enjoyed "responsibly" (huh?). Worse, it includes a bonus lesson on the contraceptive mentality.
Hence, the question is not about the sex education being age appropriate, but rather whether it integrates sexuality with the whole person. Consider dignity. Consider respect. Consider character. Consider love and true responsibility--which brings me to the next point:
2. Responsibility is not about popping pills.
It's easy to think that married couples are being responsible when they take pains to ensure they don't get pregnant because they're not ready to care for another child at the moment. But is it really being responsible? Why does responsibility entail having to put the woman's health at risk? Is the body made to be subject to the dictation of a contraceptive?
Real responsibility calls us to understand how our body works (the way Mother Nature has programmed it), and live with these natural laws and limitations. Thus it is not responsible to subject one's body to a funny drug just so sex can be done any time--as mentioned earlier, sex is not mere recreation.
3. There are things that parents alone could teach.
Parents and teachers must work hand in hand to raise useful citizens of the country. Take sex education in the context of a classroom. There's one teacher trying to get inside at least thirty active minds and hopefully instill in them proper values and attitudes. Do you think the teacher has time to teach "reproductive health" and be sure all the while that the students get the point?
Hence, sex education that should be placed in the hands of the teacher is not quite sex education, but character education. That is, teaching responsibility, prudence, respect for others, valuing good health, and putting energies into proper and useful outlets.
Parents, who know their children personally, and can figure out the best way of approaching the subject, can focus on a more family-centered take on the said topic. Now, it is a fact that not all parents take the trouble to talk about sex with their kids--it's not an easy topic to discuss after all. But teaching kids about sex is still a part of parenting--and this responsibility must not be taken away from the parents.
There are seminars being offered for parents on how to instill the proper notion of sexuality in their children, and parents can attend these if they feel they need a little help on the matter. But the best way to teach it is to live it--show the kids how mom and dad treat each other, respect each other. Very early in life, kids will see the difference between femininity and masculinity, and how these differences are nonetheless harmonious. They'll see the love between their parents, and from there how this love grows into family.
Sex education is not about contraceptives at all, if you think about it, so why keep pushing the matter as if our youth would be lost without contraceptive knowledge?
I don't see what's so dangerous about teaching the youth a more person-centered version of sex education. Contraceptives are not part of the natural scheme of things anyway, why promote them further by lauding their extraordinary use in classrooms? They already have enough marketing from the pharmaceutical companies. Let them pay for their own advertising; taxpayer's money should be put to better use.