Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sex education: solution or problem?

Malaysia is considering sex education in the National Service - I heard this on the radio a couple weeks ago.

clipped from
AP) Malaysia's government is worried that high school graduates may not know enough about sex.

Authorities in the conservative, Muslim-majority nation are considering teaching sex education to teenagers when they undergo national service after leaving school, Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil, director general of the National Service Department, said Wednesday.

blog it

High school graduates may not know enough about sex? Never underestimate teenagers!

The question is "what is sex education?" What is the curriculum? Will knowing more about sex drive up or down the sex activities among teenagers?

I found another article from John J. Macionis interesting.

Most schools today have sex education programs that teach the basics of sexuality. Instructors explain to young people how their bodies grow and change, how reproduction occurs, and how to avoid pregnancy by using birth control or abstaining from sex.

Half of U.S. teenage boys report having sex by the time they reach sixteen, and half of girls report doing so by seventeen. These numbers are much the same in most high-income nations; what accounts for the higher U.S. teen pregnancy rate is less use of contraceptives. "Sex ed" program, then seem to make sense. But critics point out that as the number of sex education programs has expanded, the level of teenage sexual activity has actually gone up. This trend seems to suggest that sex education may not be discouraging sex among youngsters and, maybe, that learning more about sex encourages young people to become sexually active sooner. Critics also say that it is parents who should be instructing their children about sex, since, unlike teachers, parents can also teach their beliefs about what is right and wrong.

But supporters of sex education counter that research does not support the conclusion that sex education makes young people more sexually active. More generally, they argue that it is the larger culture - one that celebrates sexuality - that encourages children to become sexually active. If this is the case, the sensible strategy is to ensure that they understand what they are doing and take reasonable precautions to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.