Philippine Society. Politics. Rants. Critiques.

Let's Talk About Sex (Education)

| Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sex is everywhere. From the ads on the TV to the “hot scenes” in the movies; from the radio to the cyberspace; the information highways are clogged with sex.

In the Philippines, sex poses a large number of problems. Here's what I mean: According to a UP Population Institute Survey, 23 percent of Filipinos ages 15-24 engaged in pre-marital sex in 2002, up from 18 percent in 1994. The prevalence of high-risk sexual behaviors among adolescents rose from 20 percent in 1994 to 27 percent in 2002. Further, this age group now accounts for 17 percent of all induced abortions in the nation. There are close to 4,000 people with AIDS in the Philippines (not to mention the non-documented cases).

Many people see sex education in schools as solution to address these alarming realities. Sex Education or sexuality education, according to the United Nations Educational, and Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is “an age-appropriate, culturally relevant approach to teaching about sex and relationships by providing sexually accurate, realistic, non-judgmental information”. It provides “opportunities to explore one’s own values and attitudes and to build decision-making; communication; and risk-reduction skills about sexuality”.

Sex education seems not about sex per se yet it was scrapped after heavy CBCP opposition four years ago. Now that it was revived, many people (CBCP still) are against the implementation of the sexuality education program in the Philippines. These are their major points of contention:

1. Sex education doesn’t belong in schools but the SOLE responsibility of the parents.

2. Sex education makes PMS acceptable thus would jeopardize our moral fabric.

I personally believe the contrary for it is high time that the lack of knowledge of our young people be addressed in a way that will allow them to make informed decisions. Point-by-point let’s try to break the arguments down.

The CBCP contends that it should be the responsibility of the parents to educate their children about the birds and the bees. But the problem is, it is not our nation’s culture for parents to talk and discuss sex with children.

Professor Corazon Raymundo of the UP Population Institute strongly affirm that the Filipino parents are just too ashamed to bring these matters to light. This obviously would not be effective because inside the home, the word “sex” is a taboo.

Our parents will just say it’s bad and we will know if we will be old enough to face all those things… and there is no further explanation. Many parents do not fully understand the whole concept of what sex is, physically, psychologically, emotionally. Some are too conservative to talk to their children about sex; others do not have the time. But nonetheless these bring nothing but confusion leaving the child clueless scratching his or her head.

Curiousity killed the cat. By the time a student reaches high school, with their testosterones on overdrive, the understanding of sex is warped and fraught with hurt. With parents not teaching their young about their sexuality, kids tend to learn it from watching those on TV, pornographic sites and magazines, or the worst, from their peers.

So what’s the problem then if the children learn these things outside the home (and schools)? Simple. These sources of information about sex can, and are, frequently abused. While it may be a good thing that parents can educate their kids; most are not sex education experts just because they are parents and therefore would necessitate the helping hands of educational institutions.

On their second argument that the program encourages promiscuity, the findings of the studies made by the UNESCO Education surely negated this false notion.

UNESCO’s International Technical Guidance on Sex is a review of a total of 87 sex education programs worldwide: 47 in the United States, 29 in developing countries (like the Philippines). The following are the signifant findings:

1. 37% in all of the sex ed programs had delayed initiation of sex; 27% in developing countries. How about hastened initiation? 0%.

2. In the frequency of sex: 31% in all 87 programs had lower frequency; there was a 3% percent increase BUT there was a 44% lower frequency of sex in developing countries.

3. 44% in all sex education programs had decreased number of partners; 38% in developing countries, and ZERO percent had increased number of partners.

The above findings are apparent. It makes us believe that Dr. Benjamin Spock’s idea is right: “If anything, the more children learn about sexuality from talking with their parents and teachers and reading accurate books, the less they feel compelled to find out for themselves”. Just like our school campaigns against drugs, once we get educated, many would not tend to try the real thing.

Sexuality education obviously does not encourage promiscuity nor does it encourage pre-marital sex. It addresses the consequences of such acts, what should be done, as well as the responsibility involved.

We need sex education in our schools I strongly long as there are no "homeworks".