Sex education is a broadly used term that can be used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, contraception, and other aspects of human sexual behavior. Some of the common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers and school programs. The question this essay is going to assess is whether sex education be allowed to be taught in primary schools, this is because nowadays young people do not have a clear understanding about Sex education, therefore the government is now trying to introduce sex education in primary schools .Sex education is about helping to develop young people skills so that they make informed choices about their behaviour, and feel confident and competent about acting on these choices. This essay is also going to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of sex education by looking at parent’s views on the topic as well as research that has been conducted regarding sex education. First I will start with the aim and strengths of sex education and then move on to its weaknesses.
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It is important for sex education to begin at an early age and also provided that it is sustained giving young people basic information from an early stage in their lives to offer the foundation on which more complex knowledge is build up over time, for example , when they are very young , children can be educated about how people grow and change over time , how to manage their emotions and the physical changes to their bodies in childhood and how they progress from different stages in their lives, therefore this provides the basis on which they understand more detailed information about puberty provided in the pre-teenage years, they can also at a young age be provided with information about viruses and germs that attack the body , this provide the basis for talking to them later about infection that can be caught through sexual contact.
Sex education aims to reduce the risk of potentially negative outcomes from sexual behaviour such as unwanted or unplanned pregnancies and infections with sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Studies show that many teenagers become sexually active before the inclusion of the educational classes. Early inclusion of classes has proven to help students remain either abstinent or to at least be responsible if they are active.
It also aims to contribute to young people positive experience of their sexuality by enhancing the quality of their relationships and their ability to make informed decisions over their life time.
Effective sex education develops younger people’s skills in negotiation, decision making, assertion and listening. Other important skills include being able to recognize pressures from other peers and to resist them, dealing with and challenging prejudice and being able to seek help from adults including parents, and professionals, through the family, community and health and welfare services. Sex education if taught at early age can also help equip young people with the skills to be able to differentiate between accurate and inaccurate information and discuss a rage of moral and social issues and perspectives on sex and sexuality including different cultural attitudes and sensitive issues like sexuality, abortion and contraception.
Sex education also do provide young people with an opportunity to explore the reason why people have sex, and to think about how it evolve emotions, respect for one self and other people and their feelings, decisions and bodies.
People who have been in favour of sex education are for example, Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, who said that making time in the national curriculum for these classes, as part of a new personal social and health education (PSHE) syllabus would ensure that young people were better equipped “to navigate the complexities of modern life”.
He insisted, however, that very young children would not be given sexually explicit lessons. “We are not talking about five-year-olds being taught about sex . . . What we are talking about in Key Stage 1 (when children are aged 5 to 7) is children learning about themselves, their differences, their friendships, how to manage their feelings.”
Having to teach sex education to young people can be a disturbing experience as they are still young and their understanding is not yet fully developed. Controversies are abundant when dealing with such delicate issues and there are many disadvantages to sexual education being taught in primary schools. It seems that most parents are either strongly against or strongly in favour of sexual education classes, but very few parents are in the middle ground. And, in fact, there are more parents that are in favour of sexual education classes
Some of the difficulties primary teachers might face are that first of all they are not always trained how to properly teach sexual education courses and may transgress their own beliefs or morals into the subject matter rather than stick with the facts. Which will lead to confusion later in life because it might be that secondary teachers are more trained therefore they stick to the facts; this results students to be bewildered about what is actually the right and wrong.
Often, sexual education can go against an individual’s moral or religious beliefs. Many schools do not teach abstinence only but teach how to have intercourse safely, whereas many religious and family values stress marriage before intercourse. This will result in parents withdrawing their children from classes, especially when it concerns girls; parents tend to be more strict than towards boys. An example of this is from The Times newspaper as a mother explains why she if removing her daughter from sex education classes “… For her, the horror began with a childbirth video last summer term. I have no idea how graphic it was – neither does Ruby, because she buried her head in her hands as soon as she saw the woman’s face, which was, in Ruby’s words, “twisted in pain”. The woman’s cries scared her and Ruby came home in tears, doubting that she would ever have children. Several ashen-faced boys said that they were sure glad they weren’t girls. Then came the animated stick people having sex, complete with zoom- in diagrams.”
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These classes also tend to be gendered due to the fact that their central focus is teenage pregnancy, which means most of the advice they have to offer is on contraceptives. Also the sex education field is mostly dominated by females and as a result boys do not have role models to teach them about everything or have people who have previously experienced what they are experiencing now. Consequently due to the lack of males in the sex education field boys will start to think it does not concern them therefore they will start to lose interest especially at a young age students may still suffer from embarrassment or get excitable by the topic matter. This can cause for out of control classrooms if students take to giggling or making inappropriate remarks.
Furthermore, while information about contraception and safe sex is discretionary and discussion about relationships is often neglected teenagers tent to grow up without knowing much about relationships therefore they lack knowledge on how to maintain or work on relationships.
In addition some teachers usually discuss student’s issues in the staff room for example in a 2000 study by the University of Brighton, many 14 to 15 year olds reported disappointment with the content of sex education lessons and felt that lack of confidentiality prevents teenagers from asking teachers about contraception In a 2008 study conducted by YouGov for Channel 4 it was revealed that almost three in ten teenagers say they need more sex and relationships education. The Guardian Unlimited: (2009)
Having assessed sex education through its pros and cons, it is however clear that this topic has more weaknesses than strengths. Nevertheless it is also clear that sex education can have both positive and negative effects on people’s lives. For example using the extract from The Times, the child could have come how crying because her knowledge on sex education is not fully developed therefore, for her to see those images scared her. However it could be positive in a way that that video had prepared her for the future, whenever she comes into contact with that circumstance again she will would have already known about it. To conclude it all comes down to how the topic is taught, if it should be taught at age 5 as Jim knight the school minister said then they should be shown the very basic of sex education not too much graphics however the knowledge can gradually be built up as time goes on.
The Guardian Unlimited: (2009) Children under 15 can be withdrawn from sex education(Accessed 14 Dec 2009)
Ann Moore (2009)Times, The (London, England) – Too much, too young – As the Government sets out new rules for sex education , Anna Moore explains why she is removing her daughter from the classes (Accessed 14 Dec 2009)