Sex education is the subject of discussion because of its importance in teaching responsible sexual behaviors to the youth. The primary goal of sex education is to help children in understanding sexuality and reproduction, as well as underlying effects on their lives. Teachers and parents should educate children to assist them comprehend and accept the responsibility that accompanies their gender by learning about sex. They should learn and adapt to the psychological and physiological changes in their developmental stages. Ellis adds the importance of understanding their bodies and those of others to take proper care of themselves and respect sexuality in general (42). However, the objective of sex education varies with age and environment and should be customized to the needs of the target population. Regardless of the different goals, sex education is essential at all developmental stages and should be taught in all socializing institutions, including the family, school, and religious organizations.
Sex education is critical due to the modern demands in life, including the curiosity about sex resulting from the emergence of information technology. According to Staksrud, Ólafsson, and Livingstone, children and adolescents encounter information about sex topics in their day-to-day interactions with peers and with the social media (40). From this exposure, parents and teachers have a responsibility to inspire the correct concept of sex to protect children from misleading information from indecent magazines and irresponsible media. The topic is informed by the high prevalence of underage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among the youth, revealing the tendency to experiment with sex early in life (Measor, Miller and Tiffin 3). Hence, it is critical to understand the topic and develop knowledge about its essential role in society.
Scholars and practitioners agree with the importance of sex education for young people. However, no consensus has been established concerning the settings for the development of the knowledge. Iyera and Aggleton recognize the role of the school as the most critical setting in developing knowledge about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) (40). However, the researchers identify a limitation in research findings on the actual responsibility of the teacher in the delivery of sex education programs. More importantly, the ability of teachers to play the role depends on their perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes towards sex education among the youth (Iyera and Aggleton 40). In addition, culture plays a role in the implementation of sex education programs in schools. On the other hand, cultural values could either support the adoption of sex education programs in schools, as the study by Villar and Concha on “Latina Immigrants in the United States” revealed (546). Therefore, some cultural aspects can be affordances while others could be hindrances to adequate sex education programs.
Research reveals a significant change in attitude towards the delivery of information on sexual matters in educational settings. Additionally, schools are increasingly implementing programs relating to sexual development, affection, reproductive health, and gender roles to promote knowledge among the youth on these subjects (Villara and Concha 545). However, the adoption of such programs differs from one culture to another, although sexual issues affect all communities. Besides, sexual behaviors contribute to inequality and health disparities among many groups, including the Latina in the United States. The marginalized communities continue to face challenges associated with irresponsible sex (Villar and Concha 545). Hence, regardless of the cultural limitations, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders should take an active role in educating children and youth on sexual and reproductive issues. The primary advantage of sex education is to educate them on the consequences of irresponsibility, such as teenage pregnancies and STIs. Creating programs targeting members of the most affected communities are necessary to address the inequality and protect the at-risk youth from the adverse effects.
Furthermore, contraceptive use is one of the topics in sex education that emerges as a highly controversial issue in various countries, including the United States. While many western countries are increasingly accepting the use of birth control methods, other more conservative societies such as Hong Kong remain uncertain about them due to concerns about their role in promoting irresponsible sexual conduct (Yip et al. 691). However, Yip et al. aver that the limitation in contraceptive use is not necessarily due to cultural constraints, but inadequate knowledge (691). It is worth noting that educators and parents have failed in providing sufficient sex education to the youths who are expected to understand the responsibility and dangers of irresponsible sexual activities. Some young people acknowledge receiving information about sex from social media, suggesting that parents and teachers have failed to take their role of educating them (Yip et al. 692). As a result, many young people are at risk of engaging in high-risk sex behaviors, and hence suffer consequences of their actions.
In addition, research reveals the importance of sex education among children and adolescents. Statistics show that although the rate of teenage pregnancies has not necessarily increased in the United States, there is still a high prevalence of the challenge in society (Villar and Concha 545). Besides, the rate of sexually transmitted infections has remained steady, especially in the marginalized communities. For example, Villar and Concha revealed a high rate of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among the Latinas in the United States (545). While other communities, such as the whites, are more likely to accept contraceptive use, Latina youths are less likely to appreciate the methods and few practice self-protective initiatives when sexually active (Villar and Concha 545). The results show a gap in knowledge and cultural barriers in promoting responsible sexual behavior in society. Hence, more sex education programs are critical and should be initiated for the most at-risk groups to protect them from early pregnancies and exposure to STIs.
Therefore, sex education should be promoted in the community, within the families, and in school setups. Many youths experiment with sex at a tender age, exposing themselves to the negative consequences of their irresponsible actions. Young people should learn about their sexuality and the role of gender in society to give them control over sexual interactions and relationships. Besides, since children and adolescents are experimenting with sex at an early age, they should be taught on the importance of engaging in responsible behavior as well as practicing safe sex. While contraceptive use remains controversial, it might be critical in ensuring that youths are safe from negative sexual encounters some of which hinder their chances of completing high school. In addition, regardless of the discomfort among some parents and teachers in discussing sexuality, sex education programs are critical at home and schools to create awareness among the youths on the importance of safe sex and responsible sexual relationships.
Sex education is necessary to create awareness among young people on responsibility and the need to avoid negative sex behaviors. Findings from the reviewed studies reveal that regardless of the importance of the topic, in some communities, parents and teachers avoid discussing the issue leaving a gap in knowledge that causes health inequality. The studies further divulge differences in attitudes and beliefs concerning various aspects of sex education, including contraceptive use. While some communities are more receptive to sex education, others have cultural beliefs that hinder effective delivery of the information to children and adolescents. As a result, they fail to address the common challenge of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The gaps in research prove the need for more exploration on ways of improving sex education and implementing sex education programs in schools and within the community.
My views have changed regarding the importance of sex education and the need to address the prevailing cultural beliefs and attitudes that affect the implementation of effective sex education programs. I have realized that limitations exist in efforts to create awareness among the children and adolescents. Hence, other stakeholders, including parents and teachers should address those concerns to protect the youths in the community. The challenge of improving sex education emanates from weaknesses on the part of adults who are not ready to confront the issue. I have developed a better understanding of the topic, and I can participate in my community effectively to support sex education efforts. I believe that youths deserve a better chance to learn about sexuality and productive health to make responsible decisions and avoid negative sexual behaviors.
Ellis, Havelock. Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Vol. 6. BoD–Books on Demand, 2018.
Measor, Lynda, Katrina Miller, and Coralie Tiffin. Young People’s Views on Sex Education: Education, Attitudes and Behaviour. Routledge, 2012.
Staksrud, Elisabeth, Kjartan Ólafsson, and Sonia Livingstone. “Does the Use of Social Networking Sites Increase Children’s Risk of Harm?” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 29, no. 1, 2013, 40-50.
Villar, Maria Elena, and Maritza Concha. “Sex education and cultural values: Experiences and attitudes of Latina immigrant women.” Sex Education vol. 12, no. 5, 2012, 545-554.
Yip, Paul S. F. et al. “Sex Knowledge, Attitudes, and High-Risk Sexual Behaviors among Unmarried Youth in Hong Kong.” BMC Public Health, vol. 3, no. 1, 2013, 691-701.