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Are we ready for sex ed?

  • Published at 06:26 pm May 5th, 2014
Are we ready for sex ed?

Parenting techniques in our country often suffer the edge of the knife, mostly for valid reasons. For starters, parents feel that their young ones are incapable of handling hard facts and so, basically, any legit information. They treat their children like half-humans even when they are grown-ups. Parents withdraw from talking about the human body and biology.

In many households, young adults grow up being unaware of their genitals. They refrain from asking questions as they- are afraid of their parents’ reactions, and for the lack of a better confidant, remain uneducated in this terrain. In general, the only opinion left for the young minds from which they can derive information about sex is their best buddy – the internet, which leads them to the world of pornography. It is safe to say that exposure to such volatile images, especially at an early age, lead to a warped opinion about sex and hence result in lethal after-effects.   

In the West, sex education (although still under scrutiny) is practiced in various states. According to Debate.org, when asked: “Should children be given sex education in school?” 84% said yes and only 16% said no. Some of the reasons for saying the latter are because “sex is bad,” and sex leads to unwanted pregnancy or other sexually transmitted diseases.  Some also said that sex education should be done at home, not in schools.

However, one might also argue that the lack of sex education might lead to STDs, rather than educating one on proper birth control measures. Also, since many parents shy away from discussing such matters with their children, a more formal approach to the subject might be deemed plausible.

But frankly speaking, can guardians really prevent their children from having sex? In the US, where sex education is the highest, research shows that teens who receive comprehensive sex education are 50% less likely to have an unintended pregnancy than those who receive sex education that are “abstinence only” or “contraception only” programs.

The question then arises: Should sex education be introduced in Bangladesh? With a majority Muslim population, sex before marriage is still a great taboo in our country. As previously mentioned, questions that adolescents might have about their own developing sexuality are simply gulped down.

In most cases, adolescents – especially girls going through puberty – have no family member to talk about what they are experiencing. Hence, when they slowly begin to feel sexual urges, it is simply a dogma to pretend like it’s not happening to them. However, can one deliberately choose to remain oblivious to pre-marital sex in Bangladeshi society? Even though HIV is comparatively low in the country, sexual abuse, although a more complex problem, shows staggering numbers. Can sex education then be a solution, if not the main way out of a number of these problems?

Research has shown that parental communication with the child, particularly between a mother and daughter, will not only delay sexual intercourse and create negative attitudes regarding pregnancy, but also decrease the likelihood of the youth having unprotected sex and decrease the number of sexual partners.

This suggests that open conversations between parent and child reduce sexual inclination at an early age. Parents can start small – mothers can talk to their daughters and fathers to their sons about all that is considered prohibited, such as drugs, alcohol, and eventually sex. One might also consider that all of the stated issues are abused by the youth, and deserve attention and clarification from guardians.

They need to make it evident that the questions that arise should be directed to them and them alone. An open and friendly relationship might work out for the best in the long-run – not only to make the children confident about facing challenges of various sorts but also to encourage them to turn to their parents during difficult times.

Although sex education, vis-à-vis health education, is partly run by some government organisations in rural societies amongst adults, it is still absent in educational institutions. A recent campaign by North South University, where free condoms were distributed amongst students was the subject of much speculation.

Perhaps it’s nice to close one’s eyes and imagine a perfect society in which kids have no idea what sex is all about. But what if the opposite holds true in case of the younger generation today? Shouldn’t promoting safe sex amongst students be the objective rather than stopping the inevitable?

I read a blog some time ago where a mother in the US was shocked by the lessons her daughter was receiving in her sex education class. Yes, the content needs to be dealt with concern. But initiatives such as the campaign in NSU are a much needed start to awareness-raising about sex education amongst young adults.