On Sex Education

THE MAIN CRITIC of the sex education is the Catholic Church. Its concern focuses mainly on the supposed antagonizing ideas of sex education with the teachings provided in the Scriptures such as sexual abstinence, monogamy and chastity. It is also alleged that sex education encourages promiscuity among young adolescents. Further, conservative critics say that, “Sex education does not provide appropriate moral context for sex and has failed in ‘reinforcing the traditional Christian ethic reserving sex for marriage’”.

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There are times when issues are better addressed by also considering the pertinent facts and figures which are scientifically gathered. In a scientifically-designed nationwide survey entitled, “Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Surveys” conducted by the National Statistics Office, it revealed that in 1994, majority of Filipino youth ages 15-24 do not engage in Pre-Marital Sex (PMS). However, more and more youth are engaging in it nowadays. At present, it is already 24% (from 17% in 1994) and the worrisome fact is that they are getting younger. The teenagers also, as the study showed, engage in risky behaviors (unprotected sex) thus exposing them to unwanted pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). This is mainly due to lack of knowledge on the sexuality and reproductive health.

Also, only 11 % of the youth say that they are free to talk about sex in home. It is with their peers and media that they receive more information about sexuality. The gruesome scenario also is that more than 55% of youth is exposed to pornographic materials which impart dangerous ideas on sex.
            So these are the facts and figures concerning the issue. Add to these the fact that the right to information is a basic right in a democratic society—children and young people also deserve the right to know information pertaining to their bodies. In this light, I personally believe that proposals like teaching sex education in schools should not be categorically rejected.

            As to the criticisms of the Catholic Church, I cannot see a necessary and automatic contradiction between teaching sex education in schools and advocating sexual abstinence (among unmarried individuals), monogamy, and chastity. In fact, by ‘un-allegorically’ teaching that sexual activities can expose them to unwanted pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), students are in a way taught to preserve ‘sexual purity’ until marriage. In the same way, youth are thereby encouraged to be faithful to their respective spouse once they are married.

            In summary, my personal opinion is that sex education could be taught in schools, provided that the content of the books (or of the video presentations, etc.) to be used and the manner through which the subject would be taught will be agreed upon by various concerned sectors (parents, teachers, health workers, church officials). Also, the instruction should not be mutually-exclusive to any sector (e.g. school only), that is, the program must involve active participation by parents and Church (e.g. through assignments to be accomplished by consulting the parents and Church leaders.). That way, the teachings would not be antagonistic and confusing to one another, thus providing a kind of holistic sexuality education.

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