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Sex Education

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Human sexuality has biological, emotional/physical and spiritual aspects. The biological aspect of sexuality refers to the reproductive mechanism as well as the basic biological drive, Libido that exists in all species, which is hormonally controlled. The emotional or physical aspect of sexuality refers to the bond that exists between individuals, and is expressed through profound feelings or physical manifestations of emotions of love, trust, and caring. There is also a spiritual aspect of sexuality of an individual or as a connection with others. Experience has shown that adolescents are curious about some or all the aspects of their sexuality as well as the nature of sexuality in general, and that many will wish to experience their sexuality. What is sex education? It is instruction on issues relating to human sexuality, including human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, birth control, and other aspects of human sexual behavior.

Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns. Sex education (‘sex ed’), which is sometimes called sexuality education or sex and relationships education, is the process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships and intimacy. Sex education is also about developing young people’s skills so that they make informed choices about their behavior, and feel confident and competent about acting on these choices. It is widely accepted that young people have a right to sex education. This is because it is a means by which they are helped to protect themselves against abuse, exploitation, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and AIDS. It is also argued that providing sex education helps to meet young people’s rights to information about matters that affect them, their right to have their needs met and to help them enjoy their sexuality and the relationships that they form.

Traditionally, adolescents were not given any information on sexual matters, with discussion of these issues being considered taboo. Such instruction as was given was traditionally left to a child’s parents, and often this was put off until just before a child’s marriage. Most of the information on sexual matters were obtained informally from friends and the media, and much of this information was of doubtful value. Much of such information was usually known to be deficient, especially during the period following puberty when curiosity of sexual matters was the most acute. This deficiency became increasingly evident by the increasing incidence of teenage pregnancies, especially in Western countries after the 1960s. As part of each country’s efforts to reduce such pregnancies, programs of sex education were instituted, initially over strong opposition from parent and religious groups. Sex education was first introduced in Philippine schools in 1972 as part of the government’s population education program.

At the time, the Philippines’ birth rates were the highest in Asia. More so, a great majority of the inhabitants of the Philippines which is considered as the center of Catholicism in the Asian region and a very conservative country believe that such aggressive move will result into catastrophic damages. Conservatives primarily the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP,) the major governing body of the Roman Church in the Philippines believe that such move will induce sex and propagate immoral ideas and virtues. Contemporary studies and surveys show the effects of ongoing sex education in the Philippines: A 1994 survey was carried out by Dr. Z.C. Zablan, a demography professor from the Population Institute of the University Of The Philippines, in relation to the views on sexuality by 11,000 Filipino youth whose ages ranged from 15 to 24 years old. The result of this study that he entitled Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey showed that 80% of Philippine youth do not endorse premarital sexual encounters, 18% of young Filipinos accepted the occurrence of premarital sexual activity, while 2% gave a neutral position about the subject matter.

Zablan also found out that 35% of women who graduated from colleges implement female liberalism and flexible attitudes toward sex, compared to 40% who preferred the use of contraceptives, and that 65% of less-educated and dependent females residing in rural areas have more conservative sexual values and behavior, but are more prone to not using contraceptives. In connection with this, Zabala’s study also revealed that there is a trend for refined and professional males to become relaxed and comfortable with copulation, with seduction and sexual stimulation, and with alternating active and passive social roles.[1] In 2009, a survey was done by Irala et al among 3,726 Filipino student teenagers regarding their opinions on relationships, love, sexuality, and related items. This study that targeted third year high school to third year college participants aged 13 to 18 years old revealed that they primarily received information and opinion on love and sexuality from friends and parents. Most female teenagers also oppose sexism. But when the education department tried to update the program module in 2006, the powerful Catholic Church opposed it.

To convince the church that the new sex education curriculum includes broader topics like sexual rights, responsible parenthood and HIV/AIDS, the program was renamed ‘reproductive health education.’ Then, when the church continued to oppose it, the subject was again renamed the ‘teen wellness program.’ But the church insists it’s still sex and so it continues to reject it. Since the executive branch of government is afraid to antagonize the influential church hierarchy, the teaching of sex and reproductive health in public schools still isn’t enforced. This has disappointed health experts and human rights advocates who want politicians to ignore the medieval arguments of the church. Public officials say, should instead stand up for the rights of young Filipinos who deserve to be informed and be more aware of their bodies and reproductive health rights.

This will help reduce cases of unwanted pregnancies, abortion among teenagers, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and maternal mortality. Studies also show that implementing sex education in schools allows the youth to have proper understanding of sexual values and this helps them in delaying their initiation to sexual relations. Guardians of morality will be happy to know that teachers can actually encourage students to practice abstinence before marriage. As the education department continues to fine tune its sex education curriculum to the wishes of the conservative church, Congress is now preparing to tackle the much-discussed Reproductive Health Bill which proposes, among others, the mandatory inclusion of age-appropriate sex education in elementary and high schools. The church, as expected, is also busy opposing the legislation of this bill. But the clerics and other critics should not worry too much about the plan to require the teaching of sex in schools. Schools will not teach promiscuity and pornography. Only trained teachers will handle the special course prepared by education and health agencies.

Parents will not be denied of primary and natural right to teach children since there will be given relevant and scientific materials on reproductive health. To another group in the sex education debate, the question is whether the state or the family should teach sexual mores. They believe that sexual mores should be left to the family, and sex-education represents state interference. They claim that some sex education curricula break down pre-existing notions of modesty and encourage acceptance of practices that those advocating this viewpoint deem immoral, such as homosexuality and premarital sex. They cite web sites such as that of the Coalition for Positive Sexuality as examples. Naturally, those that believe that homosexuality and premarital sex are a normal part of the range of human sexuality disagree with them. Many religions teach that sexual behavior outside of marriage is immoral, so adherents feel that this morality should be taught as part of sex education.

Other religious conservatives believe that sexual knowledge is unavoidable, hence preference for curricula based on abstinence.[79] Despite the opposition of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the Department of Education (DepEd) is standing pat on its decision to implement sex education in the basic education curriculum of elementary and high school students this year. It seems that DepEd has found an ally in the findings from a study of Mr. Jay Mathias Arellano from the College of Education of the University of the Philippines Diliman. Through a 50-item true or false questionnaire administered to seven hundred fifty-five (755) junior and senior high school students from three public high schools, the 10 most common sexual misconceptions of students were revealed: 1. Girls should use feminine wash every day.

2. Coitus or sexual contact for a newly married woman is always a painful experience. 3. Condoms are used every time by all men as a means of safe sex. 4. Most teens talk about sex, analyzing its negative consequences before doing it. 5. An intact hymen is a proof of an unmarried woman’s purity. 6. About one in ten girls in the Philippines becomes pregnant at least once before she reaches the age of 20, married or not. 7. Sexual harassment does not include making jokes and telling stories with sexual meaning. 8. Inserting tampons in the vagina during menstruation will destroy a girl’s hymen. 9. Wearing condoms is a guaranteed protection from sexually transmitted infections. 10. AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome can only be transferred through unsafe sex. The study also showed that there is still a continuous proliferation of sexual misconceptions and superstitions among high school students in the country. The majority of the high school respondents have moderate awareness about the common sexual misconceptions and superstitions based on a pre-designed scheme that classifies the student’s awareness according to his test score (0-10 – not aware at all, 11-20 – poorly aware, 21-30 – moderately aware, 31-40 – fairly aware, 41-50 – very aware). It also found out that the four variables studied have effects on the students’ test scores.

These variables are: location of school, gender, socio-economic status and educational attainment of parents. Sex education aims to reduce the risks of potentially negative outcomes from sexual behavior, such as unwanted or unplanned pregnancies and infection with sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. It also aims to contribute to young people’s positive experience of their sexuality by enhancing the quality of their relationships and their ability to make informed decisions over their lifetime. Sex education that works, by which we mean that it is effective is sex education that contributes to both these aims thus helping young people to be safe and enjoy their sexuality. The importance of sex education men and women and acquire the knowledge about birth; helps children on how to establish and accept the role and responsibility of their own gender by acquiring the knowledge of sex. Understanding the differences and similarities between two genders in terms of body and mind will set up a foundation for the future development in their acquaintance with friends and lovers and their interpersonal relationship. Sex education is a kind of holistic education. It teaches an individual about self-acceptance and the attitude and skills of interpersonal relationship. It also helps an individual to cultivate a sense of responsibility towards others as well as oneself.

Nowadays, with rapid growth of information, sex information is everywhere. Children are curious about sex. Therefore, parents need to instill correct concepts of sex to their children as early as possible before they are misled by indecent magazines and irresponsible media. When children grow up, they need to learn and adapt to the physiological and psychological changes in different stages of development. The learning objectives of sex education vary with the age of children and the environment. Children need appropriate and continuous counselling and guidance.

Parents are the core people who accompany their children as they grow up, so, parents are also the most appropriate person to give their children sex education. The earlier sex education is given at home, the earlier the children are able to establish correct concepts on sex, and the easier the parents can handle the situation. A lot of people consider mother as the most ideal person to give sex education; but in fact, father’s participation is equally important. A son can learn from his father the suitable role as a man, while a daughter can learn from her father the responsibilities of a man in his family and the society. She will also understand the expectations others have upon a woman. Children will greatly benefit from all these, and when they grow up, they will know how to interact with other people.

Young people can be exposed to a wide range of attitudes and beliefs in relation to sex and sexuality. Young people get information about sex and sexuality from a wide range of sources including each other, through the media including advertising, television and magazines, as well as leaflets, books and websites (which are intended to be sources of information about sex and sexuality. Some of this will be accurate and some inaccurate. Providing information through sex education is therefore about finding out what young people already know and adding to their existing knowledge and correcting any misinformation they may have. For example, young people may have heard that condoms are not effective against HIV or that there is a cure for AIDS. It is important to provide information which corrects mistaken beliefs. Without correct information young people can put themselves at greater risk. Information is also important as the basis on which young people can develop well-informed attitudes and views about sex and sexuality.

Young people need to have information on all the following topics: * Sexual development & reproduction – the physical and emotional changes associated with puberty and sexual reproduction, including fertilization and conception, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. * Contraception & birth control – what contraceptives there are, how they work, how people use them, how they decide what to use or not, and how they can be obtained. * Relationships – what kinds of relationships there are, love and commitment, marriage and partnership and the law relating to sexual behavior and relationships as well as the range of religious and cultural views on sex and sexuality and sexual diversity. In addition, young people should be provided with information about abortion, sexuality, and confidentiality, as well as about the range of sources of advice and support that is available in the community and nationally.

These sometimes appear contradictory and confusing. For example, some health messages emphasizes the risks and dangers associated with sexual activity and some media coverage promotes the idea that being sexually active makes a person more attractive and mature. Because sex and sexuality are sensitive subjects, young people and sex educators can have strong views on what attitudes people should hold, and what moral framework should govern people’s behavior – these too can sometimes seem to be at odds. Young people can be very interested in the moral and cultural frameworks that bind sex and sexuality. Youth often welcome opportunities to talk about issues where people have strong views, like abortion, sex before marriage, lesbian and gay issues and contraception and birth control. It is important to remember that talking in a balanced way about differences in opinion does not promote one set of views over another, or mean that one agrees with a particular view. Part of exploring and understanding cultural, religious and moral views is finding out that you can agree to disagree.

When should sex education starts? Sex education that works starts early, before young people reach puberty, and before they have developed established patterns of behavior. The precise age at which information should be provided depends on the physical, emotional and intellectual development of the young people as well as their level of understanding. What is covered and also how, depends on who is providing the sex education, when they are providing it, and in what context, as well as what the individual young person wants to know about. It is important for sex education to begin at a young age and also that it is sustained. Giving young people basic information from an early age provides the foundation on which more complex knowledge is built up over time. For example, when they are very young, children can be informed about how people grow and change over time, and how babies become children and then adults, and this provides the basis on which they understand more detailed information about puberty provided in the pre-teenage years.

They can also when they are young, be provided with information about viruses and germs that attack the body. This provides the basis for talking to them later about infections that can be caught through sexual contact. Does sex education at an early age encourage young people to have sex? Some people are concerned that providing information about sex and sexuality arouses curiosity and can lead to sexual experimentation. It is important to remember that young people can store up information provided at any time, for a time when they need it later on. When should parents start talking to young people about sex? Sometimes it can be difficult for adults to know when to raise issues, but the important thing is to maintain an open relationship with children which provides them with opportunities to ask questions when they have them. Parents and carers can also be proactive and engage young people in discussions about sex, sexuality and relationships. Naturally, many parents and their children feel embarrassed about talking about some aspects of sex and sexuality.

Viewing sex education as an on-going conversation about values, attitudes and issues as well as providing facts can be helpful. The best basis to proceed on is a sound relationship in which a young person feels able to ask a question or raise an issue if they feel they need to. It has been shown that in countries like The Netherlands, where many families regard it as an important responsibility to talk openly with children about sex and sexuality, this contributes to greater cultural openness about sex and sexuality and improved sexual health among young people. The role of many parents and carers as sex educators changes as young people get older and are provided with more opportunities to receive formal sex education through schools and community-settings. However, it doesn’t get any less important. Because sex education in school tends to take place in blocks of time, it can’t always address issues relevant to young people at a particular time, and parents can fulfill a particularly important role in providing information and opportunities to discuss things as they arise. Sex education can take place in a variety of settings, both in and out of school.

In these different contexts, different people have the opportunity and responsibility to provide sex education for young people. At home, young people can easily have one-to-one discussions with parents or carers which focus on specific issues, questions or concerns. They can have a dialogue about their attitudes and views. Sex education at home also tends to take place over a long time, and involve lots of short interactions between parents and children. There may be times when young people seem reluctant to talk, but it is important not to interpret any diffidence as meaning that there is nothing left to talk about. As young people get older advantage can be taken of opportunities provided by things seen on television for example, as an opportunity to initiate conversation. It is also important not to defer dealing with a question or issue for too long as it can suggest that you are unwilling to talk about it. There is evidence that positive parent-child communication about sexual matters can lead to greater condom use among young men and a lower rate of teenage conception among young women.

In school the interaction between the teacher and young people takes a different form and is often provided in organized blocks of lessons. It is not as well suited to advising the individual as it is to providing information from an impartial point of view. The most effective sex education acknowledges the different contributions each setting can make. School programs which involve parents, notifying them what is being taught and when, can support the initiation of dialogue at home. Parents and schools both need to engage with young people about the messages that they get from the media, and give them opportunities for discussion. In some countries, the involvement of young people themselves in developing and providing sex education has increased as a means of ensuring the relevance and accessibility of provision. Consultation with young people at the point when programs are designed helps ensure that they are relevant and the involvement of young people in delivering programs may reinforce messages as they model attitudes and behaviour to their peers. As part of their school-based Sex and Relationship Education programme, the UK-based organisation, Apause involves peer-educators to achieve positive behavior change among students aged 13 and 14, with an aim to reduce the rates of first intercourse before the age of 16. Preconditions for Sex Education

1. Understand sexual education
2. Build a good parent-child relationship and establish a foundation for future interaction Education Skills and Methods
1. Choose the right time, ask questions and provide answers
2. Establish children’s confidence and holistic development
3. Use proper materials and keep up with time
4. Understand your children and understand yourself
5. Equality and mutual respect
6. Be kind and patient
7. Be honest and objective
8. Do as you preach
9. Make use of education materials
10. Broaden their social circle and seek support

School-based sex education can be an important and effective way of enhancing young people’s knowledge, attitudes and behavior. There is widespread agreement that formal education should include sex education and what works has been well-researched. Evidence suggests that effective school programs will include the following elements: * A focus on reducing specific risky behaviors

* A basis in theories which explain what influences people’s sexual choices and behavior * A clear, and continuously reinforced message about sexual behavior and risk reduction * Providing accurate information about, the risks associated with sexual activity, about contraception and birth control, and about methods of avoiding or deferring intercourse * Dealing with peer and other social pressures on young people; providing opportunities to practice communication, negotiation and assertion skills * Uses a variety of approaches to teaching and learning that involve and engage young people and help them to personalize the information * Uses approaches to teaching and learning which are appropriate to young people’s age, experience and cultural background * Is provided by people who believe in what they are saying and have access to support in the form of training or consultation with other sex educators Formal programs with all these elements have been shown to increase young people’s levels of knowledge about sex and sexuality, put back the average age at which they first have sexual intercourse and decrease risk when they do have sex.

In addition to this, effective sex education is supported by links to sexual health services and takes into account the messages about sexual values and behavior young people get from other sources (such as friends and the media). It is also responsive to the needs of the young people themselves – whether they are girls or boys, on their own or in a single sex or mixed sex group, and what they know already, their age and experiences. Providing effective sex education can seem daunting because it means tackling potentially sensitive issues and involving a variety of people – parents, schools, community groups and health service providers. However, because sex education comprises many individual activities, which take place across a wide range of settings and periods of time, there are lots of opportunities to contribute. The nature of a person’s contribution depends on their relationship, role and expertise in relation to young people. For example, parents are best placed in relation to young people to provide continuity of individual support and education starting from early in their lives. School-based education programs are particularly good at providing information and opportunities for skills development and attitude clarification in more formal ways, through lessons within a curriculum.

Community-based projects provide opportunities for young people to access advice and information in less formal ways. Sexual health and other health and welfare services can provide access to specific information, support and advice. Sex education through the mass media, often supported by local, regional or national Government and non-governmental agencies and departments, can help to raise public awareness of sex health issues. Further development of sex education partly depends on joining up these elements in a coherent way to meet the needs of young people. There is also a need to pay more attention to the needs of specific groups of young people like young parents, young lesbian, gay and bisexual people, as well as those who may be out of touch with services and schools and socially vulnerable, like young refugees and asylum-seekers, young people in care, young people in prisons, and also those living on the street. The circumstances and context available to parents and other sex educators are different from place to place.

Practical or political realities in a particular country may limit people’s ability to provide young people with comprehensive sex education combining all the elements in the best way possible. But the basic principles outlined here apply everywhere. By making our own contribution and valuing that made by others, and by being guided by these principles, we can provide more sex education that works and improve the support we offer to young people. Besides all the oppositions against sex education, it is still most effective if implemented in a traditional school setting. We still need health experts and teachers who can discuss sensitive sex concepts directly to students. Classroom interaction is more persuasive than virtual interaction. And internet penetration has yet to reach the remotest parts of the provinces. And as for the Philippine government, its policymakers should realize that teaching sex to young Filipinos is not a religious issue that’ll be decided by bishops alone.

If the people, especially the youth, want it, the government should be ready to offer it through schools, clinics, community centers—even cyberspace. We cannot deny that we are in the state of adolescence, whereas we have these raging hormones that are easily stimulated by uncensorable knowledge from non-school, techno-social environment. Such stimulation could possibly bring us all to the world of undesirable consequences. The Young Adult Fertility Survey conducted by University of the Philippines Population Institute said that there’s a significant percentage of early to late adolescents who are already into premarital sex. This result reflects our society today. Talk about our friends in High School who have their babies before or after graduation. Talk about Nene in “Katorse” who feared about her nanay’s reaction rather than the burndens she’ll carry after having unsafe sex.

Problems regarding ignorance in sex are indeed rampant. With SexEd, the intention is not to encourage young ones to engage into sex but to propagate learnings instead. As long as highly influential institutions, like the Church, are there, willing to guide and give assistance, we will not forget how to draw the line between what is moral and not. If our government will continue to adhere to all the medieval age thinking, I doubt if we could help this country from preventing Rapid Population Growth. As what Conrado de Quiros said “It’s the Education, not the Sex”, true indeed that we’re for education and not of sex. However massive screening and studies must be allotted regarding this matter if ever our government would implement sex education as part of our private and public schools’ curricula. We can never say “never”, when in fact we’re not blind of the rampant controversies around us and when our eyes are all open, widely open to see those problems. Let us not be miopic in these issues. Let us think of the future and most importantly, THINK OF TODAY.


* ^ a b c Florante, JJ. “Demographics and a Historical Perspective”. International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. * ^ De Irala, J.; Osorio, A.; Del Burgo, C.; Belen, V. A.; De Guzman, F. O.; Calatrava, M. A.; Torralba, A. N. (2009). “Relationships, love and sexuality: What the Filipino teens think and feel”. BMC Public Health 9: 282. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-282. PMC 2907520.PMID 19656369 * ^ PBS, February 4, 2005 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, Episode 823 Accessed 2006-12-30 * Blekinsop, S., Wade, P., Benton, T., Gnaldi, M. and Schagen, S. (2004), ‘Evaluation of the APAUSE Sex and Relationships Education Programme’ London: National Foundation for Educational Research * Cai, L., Hong, H., Shi, R., et al. (2008), ‘Long-term follow-up study on peer-led school-based HIV/AIDS prevention among youths in Shanghai’ International Journal of STDs & AIDS, 19: 848-850. * Collins, C., Alagiri, P. and Summers, T. (2002), ‘Abstinence only vs. comprehensive sex education: What are the arguments? What is the evidence?’ University of California, San Francisco: AIDS Research Institute. * Dickson, R., Fullerton, D., Eastwood, A., Sheldon, T., Sharp, F et al. (1997), ‘Preventing and reducing the adverse effects of unintended teenage pregnancies’ National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination University of York. * Family Health International (2005), ‘Youth Research Working Paper No. 2. Impact of sex and HIV education programs on sexual behaviors of youth in developing and developed countries’. * Forrest, S., Strange, V., Oakley, A., and the RIPPLE team (2002), ‘A comparison of student evaluations of a peer-delivered sex education programme and teacher-led programme’ Sex Education, 2(3): 195-214. * http://mongpalatino.com/2010/12/sex-education-in-schools-and-cyberspace/ * http://newstable.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/sex-education-in-the-philippines/ * http://www.ovcrd.upd.edu.ph/researchlines/2010/06/18/study-says-yes-to-sex-education-in-the-philippine-schools/ * http://www.ovcrd.upd.edu.ph/researchlines/2010/06/18/study-says-yes-to-sex-education-in-the-philippine-schools/ * http://www.studenthealth.gov.hk/english/resources/resources_bl/files/lf_se_fs

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