As porn increases, so does the need for sex education

Jun 11, 2012
Sex Talk
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SOME YEARS BACK there was an advertisement on EMTV about awareness of condoms. A doctor appeared during commercial breaks and spoke explicitly about safe sex through their use.

While watching the popular CHM Making Music program each Thursday evening, or during the Friday night football, commercial breaks were switched off by many people to avoid viewing this advertisement.

Quite recently, it was reported in one of daily newspaper that a student from a named primary school in the nation’s capital was suspended from classes. He was caught by his teacher watching porn during class time on his mobile phone.

These two cases exemplify how important sex education is for our young people. It is imperative that they receive such education. in the long run, its absence is not good for their health and physical well-being.

There was huge public resentment towards the condom ad. Concerned people were in total disagreement as they thought it was morally and religiously wrong for it to be viewed by children.

The newspapers and the local radio stations became the venting forums for people to express their frustration, make known their views and opine on the effects this advertisement would have on the young people.

Fortunately the doctor was not harmed but the gossiping world disliked him.

He later proved critics wrong by representing PNG in international engagements, notably in Timor Leste and becoming PNG’s top health administrator. I admire him to this day.

As for the latter ,there were no public commentaries on the general conduct of young people accessing pornography.

The debate on whether it is worth having sex education in primary schools has never been had at length. Obviously the age factor has limited advocacy.

My argument is not to teach students about sex alone, but rather broaden their mindsets about the dangers, what they need to know, and how to deal with issues.

When the topic of sex education pops up in discussion on the streets, at school and among peers, the obvious topic is about sexual pleasures or encounters.

But there is more to the topic than this shallow and immature understanding. The definition of sex education refers to teaching about the different sexes, the relationships between opposite sexes, the importance of sex, the reproductive system and related issues and challenges.

According to Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the UN Population Fund, sex education is like teaching people how to drive by telling them in detail what is under the bonnet, how the bits work, how to maintain them safely to avoid accidents, what the controls do and when to go on the road. It is all about the mechanics.

Sex education is part of young people’s educational upbringing in many western countries, including Australia. This was evident during Insight on SBS Television’ recently, where an audience of mostly teenagers were asked about how influential pornography was and is in their lives.

Some of them admitted watching porn as early as eleven years old. They claimed to have received more information from such stuff than being taught by their parents or at school.

Having been brought up in societies where traditional beliefs and value systems have a strong influence on growth and development, sex and its entire doings are a tabu for us, especially the young ones.

Coupled with this are strong religious beliefs and church practices. These are the principle challenges, forbidding parents from providing a profound understanding about sex to the young ones.

As the world is changing, people’s behaviour and conception of sex is changing. A wave of pornography is hitting our shores and pushing the social and biblical walls of relationships and marriages, the essence of love and respect, wide open.

Pornography is readily available in this country; five years ago it was restricted to those who ventured abroad.

Also the social mores and behaviour cycles of young people have greatly changed. The spread of pandemic diseases, like HIV/AIDS, and issues like prostitution, human smuggling and drug trafficking top the list of social concerns about young people. The young become victims of the ever growing gap between the developed and the developing world.

This raises serious issues about the lack of sex education in primary schools. The absence is negligent of the outcomes for young people: unwanted pregnancies; prostitution; incest; under-age sex are.

There is an important issue of internet accessibility and the dissemination of sex information. Having access to the internet has shifted from cafes to the palms of our hands. The mobile phone has made surfing more convenient and it takes less time. You have access to it wherever you are.

With little or no control over which sites are restricted and which are not, young people find themselves having access to everything. Males access sites about females and females do the opposite.

The sites most frequently visited are porn sites and the lust for this becomes a secret mission for young people.

The children of this generation are more open-minded about both material and non-material stuff. Let me put it this way, the ability of a 13-year old to grasp ideas is much different from someone of that age 10 years ago.

Non-material stuff like romance and love, relationships and marriage, and sex may seem less important to us as adults, but they are priority agendas for young people.

The young of this generation take for granted relationships, marriages and sex. However, they lack the basic information about the essentials and core of this stuff.

Sadly for them, the consequences are often unknown, especially young girls who do not seem to foresee their future after pregnancy.

The argument about the incompatibility of sex education with primary schooling should be a thing of the past. Sex education should be understood as an important part of a child’s growth and development.

Government needs to make available comprehensive sex education as well as confidential sexual and reproductive health services that will help young people to make responsible choices regarding their sexuality.

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