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Sex Education: It’s not an ‘if’, it’s a question of ‘when’

Sri Lankan culture is parceled with a number of taboo words. The word ‘sex’ takes a foremost place on this list. Reflection of it as a taboo word itself has gained attention towards sex and its aspects among citizens. This, in turn, has resulted in an increase of inquisitiveness in children. Excitement is what drives the youth and experimenting; exploring new ends would eventually result in undesirable incidents. This could be prevented if these kids were properly educated from grade one and not making it a buried topic.

It’s not surprising that the addition of sex education to the stereotypic curriculum is viewed as an out of bounds change. When the word gets out, political parties, buddhist scholars, media and child protection authorities would rally around the education ministry asking for such curricula to be abolished. After all, Lankans are only sensible in walking about the streets under the scorching sun chanting slogans which they have little or no understanding of whatsoever. Thus it is much talked about the need for the introduction of sex education to Sri Lanka now. But are we really aware of the reasons for why it is needed?

Moral Issues

Sex Education | Sri Lanka

Sex education is longer a question of an ‘if’, its a question of ‘when’ (Image Credits: FPA Sri Lanka)

Colombo International School (CSI) introduced this concept of sex education to the students back in 2010 in the form of a booklet. It was distributed among students of 12 to 13 years of age within the school. A particular session was not allocated for the subject to be taught it was merely distributed among the kids to be referred when at home. Ideally CSI could have allocated a certain time and introduced this as a subject to practice humanity along with well-qualified instructors and teachers to make the concept more successful.

However, the uproar was caused by the book “Moral Issues” by Joe Jenkins. The book was approved by the UK education authorities and published by one of the most distinguished publishers that is Heinemann Educations. The authorities and the media reacted to this as if there was indecent sex education in the school and every child above 12 years were asked to have sex. It was deduced as if all the kids were in danger of becoming immoral due to the book.

The lack of awareness

The main reason to why we need to educate our children is that statistics depicts, over the years the number of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and unplanned pregnancies are on the rise. These occur due to less awareness and guidance that the children receive on these topics. Along with puberty and the sudden changes in the levels of hormones, it’s impossible to stop the change of emotions within oneself. When the young start exploring themselves with no knowledge but leading themselves based on their emotions, it’s no wonder that the rate of unplanned pregnancies and STDs are on the rise.

Sex Education | Sri Lanka | Condom vending machine

Awareness and guidance on safe sex practices can go a long way

How many of the children are aware of the contraceptive methods or either any knowledge of how these Sexually Transmitted Diseases transmit? Let’s forget the children for a moment. The majority of the adults are not even aware of these important areas. Knowledge is the key to understanding and the solution to the crisis. Should an elementary understanding on these matters at least be provided, the situation could be controlled and reduced to a certain extent.

With technology at their fingertips, the teenagers have new but unsafe ways of exploring their sexuality such as ‘sexting’, video calling, pornography, etc. The exchange of visual and sexual images through mobile phones and the internet have become more popular now. One dangerous side of this is that it also become a gateway to quite a few of the child abuses and rape cases now.

Break the stigma

We have grown men groping women and young girls in buses and big crowds, catcalling the women out on the streets. We need to teach boys from the very early age that harassing a girl is not acceptable under any circumstance. Nowadays there is increased association with the opposite sex. Therefore, they need to be vigilant of situations and people. They need to know about how to deal with their emotions and balance rejection among other things.

In foreign countries, sex education is not a mystery egg like in Sri Lanka. In a generation that pursues more and more foreign education, its more vital we keep the young generation educated. Otherwise, how could we expect them to be aware of these in an alienated society when their own country fails to offer them the proper guidance and awareness? Break down of the social stigma behind this topic. Enable a free, open flow of communication among each other. This solves half the problem.

A responsible future generation

After all, how could the students be educated when the teachers themselves find it an uncomfortable subject? Biology lessons contain sex education up to a certain extent. Being a biology student, I’ve personally experienced how teachers struggle to explain the science beyond reproduction freely. No proper explanations are given on the process of contraception. Mentioning of a few words is all that happens due to embarrassment.

It’s both the duty of the parents and the school to teach the children about the ethical and moral values. Today, schools give prominence to teach students with the academic curricula so that once they leave the school they could get a good pay, name, titles, and qualifications. These are necessary to earn a living but not to live life compassionately. Unless we put an end to pointing out that making love, use of birth controls as indecent acts, the dilemma of sex education would take a positive road in years to come. Promotion of informal or formal sex education among students will prevent a greater damage from taking place.

Teenagers are curious and exploratory. When they don’t receive the necessary information from their elders they turn to their friends, books, internet, magazines, etc. It’s better to keep in mind that prevention is better than cure and to execute the plans before it’s too late. Sex education helps them understand the place of sexuality in human life. They will learn to enjoy their sexuality, behave responsibly within their sexual and personal relationships which will be carried to adulthood. Obviously this wouldn’t cut the chance of sexual activities among students. But they’ll be aware of the consequences and would indeed know how to prevent themselves from greater harms.

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