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The Cruciality of Sexual Education to Be Taught in Primary and Secondary Schools

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The topic of sex and sexuality has been giggled at for generations by many classes of 11-12 year old’s in primary public school. Even young and fully developed adults still snicker and are uncomfortable by the topic. For this reason, it is incredibly important for adolescents and children to be introduced to the topic of sexual education in their younger years so that, not only do they are grow-up to be comfortable with discussing the topic, but to also establish a comprehensive education so that the child/young person can grow up and lead a safe and healthy life.

Often teachers and parents don’t approve of teaching young children the topics of reproductive sex and puberty. This can be a result of personal belief or religion. At the end of the day parents are worried about the safety of their children and protecting them from negative outside influences. However, this parental protection can easily negatively impact a child’s development both mentally and physically. Despite 93% of young people saying they learnt about sex and sexual health in school-based sexual education programs, students still reported that they felt unconfident discussing sexuality or contraception with their parents.

Additionally, latest research shows that students look to parents and schools for reliable information, therefore the support of parents and the education system is vital. Over the last decade, young people are becoming more sexually active and researchers have concluded two main issues of concern; a low level of condom use, and increased rates of unwanted sex, especially in conjunction with alcohol. Messages of sexuality are ever-present in our world and society, whether that be in pop culture through music videos, advertisements, or Film & TV.

These messages are often utilised to sell a product, rather than offering a proper and healthy understanding to young people. As quoted by a known parent, “having the information is so important in order to make conscious decisions and establish self-respect.” Providing this comprehensive education to our young people, as long as it’s consistent, accurate and respectful of diversity, can holistically improve and maintain positive behaviour in young people.

Regardless of a clear indication of sexual educations vital role in the education system, beliefs, particularly those of a religious kind, tend to get in the way of not only education but ensuring that our young people thrive as they mature. UNESCO have reflected that there is significant evidence to support sexuality education. Not only does it increase their knowledge and improve their attitude, but it also “does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behaviour or STI/HIV infection rates.” In conjunction, programmes promoting abstinence as the only viable option not only appear unproductive, but also “have been found to be ineffective in delaying sexual initiation, reducing the frequency of sex or reducing the number of sexual partners.” Understandably everyone has different religious belief systems and possess a strong opinion on sex, however it should not be thrust onto young people due to their families.

Research that was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health concluded “that when sex education included information about contraception, teens had a lower risk of pregnancy than adolescents who received abstinence-only or no sex education.” These findings offered some alleviation to common fears of parents and teachers who are concerned that students are more likely to increase their sexual activity due to receiving comprehensive sex education.

It is an evident importance that young people have all the correct information they need, so that they can develop their own personal belief system. Based on the findings of 55 qualitative studies exploring SRE (sex and relationship education), “two overarching themes emerged”, one being that schools failed to acknowledge the challenges of teaching SRE. Instead they taught it like any other subject at school. The feedback showed that “in mixed sex classes young men feared humiliation if they weren’t sexually experienced and said they were often disruptive to mask their anxieties [whereas] their female class mates felt harassed and judged by them.”

Additionally, “stereotyping was also common, with women depicted as passive, men as predatory, and little or no discussion of gay, bisexual, or transgender sex.” Not only does this present an issue in terms of diversity and acceptance, but it also presents an issue around young people’s mental and sexual health. They will essentially, pair the topic of sex with embarrassment and harassment and therefore will most likely make ill-governed decisions on their future sexual encounters. The second theme present in this study is that “schools seem to find it difficult to accept that some of their students are sexually active” and therefore lacking relevancy and relatability to students. Young people saw it as “an emphasis on abstinence; moralising; and a failure to acknowledge the full range of sexual activities [the students] engaged in.” Researchers had acknowledged that although the study presented low quality and variable content, SRE is still viewed as vital for “protecting young people from ill health, unwanted pregnancies, sexual abuse and exploitation.”

In continuance, A PSHE study found that in primary schools, there is a large emphasis on friendships and relationships when teaching SRE. This has the ability to leave students “unprepared for the physical and emotional changes that come with puberty.” On the other hand, secondary schools place too much emphasis on “the mechanics of reproduction rather than the importance of healthy sexual relationships.” Additionally, they discovered that many secondary schools cover topics like puberty, reproduction, STI’s, contraception, abortion and pregnancy, but there was ‘less emphasis on sexual consent and the influence of pornography.’

Moreover, a study conducted in 2001 “indicated that teens 13 to 15 years of age receive over half of their information about sex from friends, television, movies, and other entertainment sources.” Information on sexuality from these sources are often constructed and unrealistic. Many sex educators refer to this exchange of information between adolescents as “the blind leading the blind” because youth often have unknowingly been subjected to inaccurate and/or unrealistic information, resulting in them passing it on to their peers. Furthermore, this circulation of uninformed content is almost incomparable to the astronomical amount of non-credible sources youth’s now have access to in the era we currently live in, where we are heavily influenced by technology and media.

Conclusively, comprehensive sexual education in primary and secondary schools presents a strong and vital aspect to children and adolescents education. By improving communication on health and well-being in relation to subjects such as sexuality, healthy relationships, gender equality, sexual behaviour, consent, and sexual violence, it ensures that we are instilling the importance of young people developing their own values and self-governance, therefore being able to conduct themselves with a positive attitude when making decisions about their sexual health. Ultimately, any education regarding sexuality, reproduction and puberty needs to be given to students accurately in order for them to establish an understanding and awareness of their bodies and how to protect them.

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The Cruciality Of Sexual Education To Be Taught In Primary And Secondary Schools. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 21, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-cruciality-of-sexual-education-to-be-taught-in-primary-and-secondary-schools/
“The Cruciality Of Sexual Education To Be Taught In Primary And Secondary Schools.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-cruciality-of-sexual-education-to-be-taught-in-primary-and-secondary-schools/
The Cruciality Of Sexual Education To Be Taught In Primary And Secondary Schools. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-cruciality-of-sexual-education-to-be-taught-in-primary-and-secondary-schools/> [Accessed 21 Jan. 2022].
The Cruciality Of Sexual Education To Be Taught In Primary And Secondary Schools [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2022 Jan 21]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-cruciality-of-sexual-education-to-be-taught-in-primary-and-secondary-schools/
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