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The Importance Of Educating Teenagers About Safe Sex

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There are many concerns about youth sexual education nowadays, just as it were many years ago. Whether it is in Canada or any other country, there will always be questions whether sexual education provides adequate preparation for children and youth to begin their intimate journeys. Sexual education at schools aims to equip young students with the knowledge about all aspects of human sexuality such as: human body, reproduction, birth control as well to teach about abortion and gender issues. All those aspects, which many adolescents do not have opportunity to learn from their parents, and often misinformed by them, should be tugged in in order to adequately prepare youths for their future intimate life. That is why expanding the horizons of sexual education in schools not only in regards of teaching human biology but also teaching personal, cultural and social aspects of sexuality is important in shaping youth’s perceptions of sex to become more responsible.

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Thinking back about the sexual education I received during high school years back in Poland, I can undoubtedly say that it was education with no education. In other words, topics like the human body and reproductive systems, which were also a part of our biology classes, were indeed touched on. The use of birth control methods, such as condoms and oral contraceptives were discussed, however leaving many more unexplored. It was not mandatory to attend sexual education classes during my adolescent years. Knowledge about puberty was a part of gymnasium sexual education as well. As a young girl in the 90’s, I did not have many opportunities to learn about my sexuality and prepare for the adult intimate life from my parents. During that time there was not enough information provided regarding how to start a safe sex life, what to be aware of, and the consequences of it. Certainly, one of the consequence that everyone was aware of was the risk of pregnancy. Topics regarding gender issues, sexually transmitted infections or abortion were never a part of my Polish sexual education. Poland always had and still has a conservative approach to many topics related to human sexuality and traditional family values, specifically a pro-life approach towards abortion. Without a proper sexual education, young people will continue to be unaware of many opportunities and issues that are present out there.

To better educate young people in this enormously important subject, especially during puberty and adolescent years, a more liberal approach needs to be implemented. Elementary classes should be separated for boys and girls class to allow young people to get used to the fragile subject of human sexuality and be unashamed when addressing it later. Middle school education should begin human anatomy, puberty, menstruation, and intimate hygiene, safe sexual behaviour and anticonception (over the counter and natural family planning methods). Being aware about the variety of contraceptives available allows young people to choose the one that best meets their needs when intimacy time occurs and there is a need to be protected from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Children nowadays begin to grow up faster than ever. This is why it is important to start spreading an awareness about intimate relationships and its consequences early.

During adolescent years, it is also important to touch on gender and the issues associated with it, such as homosexuality, transgender and transsexual individuals. Although it is becoming a norm in today’s society, many cultures and countries still hold discriminatory views about same sex couples and those who’s gender do not match their identities. It is crucial that young people are aware of the existence of more than two genders and be taught to respectfully approach and interact with those who seem different. As a primary socializing agent, educational institutions can have a tremendous impact on how gender diversity is perceived by children and create a positive or negative image of it.

Moving towards high school education, sexual education should place more attention on the results of unwanted pregnancy and resolution methods such as giving birth, abortion or adoption possibilities as often many young women are left unaware of the many possibilities to seek help. To add to that, I strongly believe that sexual education in high school should also include the issues associated with sexual activity, such as sexually transmitted infections. Most of the younger generation are only aware about AIDS/HIV, while many other life-threatening infections such as: chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis and ways of contracting them are left unaddressed. This is especially important as the proper education and awareness could highly decrease the numbers of those carrying the disease and encourage healthy young people to use adequate protection before engaging in sexual behaviour. Research confirms that School- Based safe sex education is one of the most effective approaches in promoting sexual health among youths and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

In conclusion, sexual education should be provided through elementary and secondary school to properly address and teach topics associated with particular age group. Aside from biological aspects, social and personal factors need to be incorporated into classrooms to help students expand their perspectives. Moreover, sexual education teachers should be professionally skilled and be able to create the class environment that is unbiased, empathetic and allows students to express feelings and concerns. This way sexual education is more likely to become successful and encourage students to ask questions and be unashamed to participate in class. Teachers should also be open and confident when explaining sensitive issues to assure students that sexuality subject is not a taboo nor a joke, but one that needs to be constantly explored and learned about, as it is also a huge responsibility that applies to every human being. 

01 February 2021

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