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Should sex education only be taught by parents?

Each week we ask two writers with contrasting opinions to answer the question...

YES!
TASHA MATHUR

WITH THE increasing rate of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, one thing is clear – sex education in schools is NOT working. There is absolutely no way we can say schools have been successful in teaching sex with mothers as young as 11 in the country.

Like the entire British curriculum, it’s simply a case of ticking a box. Sex ed? Check. The clinical approach to teaching something as complicated and emotional as sex has resulted in pupils not understanding the clear implications of what they are doing. If anything, the idea of sexual activity has been promoted through mixed messages. Schools dissuade children from having sex, yet they give them the means to participate in it by handing out condoms.

The remedy for this? Let parents take control. If they can’t teach their own children about the birds and the bees, who can? Each family has its own cultural values surrounding sex, which can’t be taught in school. As a Hindu, no sex before marriage is still widely upheld in our culture, so teaching children about it is completely unheard of.

Being told about sex in the privacy of their own home also eliminates the element of inevitable peer pressure children will receive when all learning about sex as a group.

It was recently discovered that 59 percent of parents don’t want sex education taught in schools, believing that it should be their own choice how, when and what to teach their children about their moral perceptions regarding sex. Parents know their children best and are the only ones who know what they will and won’t respond to.

With a standardised, Government-approved teaching of sex, every child will interpret it differently. At the end of the day, you can only learn so much from a biological account of sex, involving cucumbers and condoms.

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NO!
MARISSA FORRESTER

WITH THE recent increase of teenage pregnancy in the UK, it would make sense to educate pupils at school about sex.

Sex shouldn't be considered a taboo subject – especially at school, where a child or adolescent spends most of their time.

Teachers will not be first in introducing ideas of sex and sexuality. Frankly speaking, most children will have come across it before.

All children are exposed to over-sexualised ideas and images in the media. Despite their efforts to protect their children from over-sexualised images, parents would be naive to think that they will not be susceptible to them.

I first heard about sex at the age of seven from other kids. When I asked my parents what it was all about they were open about it and explained sex to me in an age-appropriate manner. The relationship my parents had developed with me meant that it wasn't awkward. Some parents don’t even bother, leaving children to figure it out for themselves.

I'm aware that there are varied religious and moral ideologies that reflect on ways in which parents educate their children about sex. Although this may be the case, sex still remains an issue of public health.

Sex education at school isn't supposed to provide a platform for teachers to act as substitute parents. The role of the teacher is to educate pupils impartially, without judgement of faith, socio-cultural ideas and identity. It should be an age-appropriate process of gradual learning. With dialogue between school and parents, and with the latter’s permission, it should aim to educate about the mechanics of sex, which many parents either do not understand or shy away from.

Sex education programmes should address not only the biological dimensions of sex (the science) but also the psychological (explanations of feelings and attitudes), behavioural domains such as decision-making and communication skills.

A common misconception is that sex education in such detail encourages sexual behaviour. It doesn’t, it simply encourages a young person to get to know themselves, thus enabling them to relate to others comfortably.

Therefore, it is the Government's responsibility to ensure that qualified teachers impart this education in a way that is fair and equal, discussing all aspects of sexual behaviour, lifestyle and orientation.

*THE 'HEAD TO HEAD''COLUMN IS BY THE LONDON 360 REPORTERS
To find out more about what our reporters are up to go to www.communitychannel.org/london360
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