Arush Emmanuel Michael
I was one of the 20 biology students in my all-boys school who were handed a condom packet by our class 12th biology teacher. There was a female condom and intrauterine device also being passed around, we opened our packets of condoms and except for the sexually experienced classmates had no idea how to properly use this rubbery object. We knew this condom was supposed to be worn on our penis during sexual intercourse, but we did not know the exact method of doing the same. The teacher asked if we had questions and we stayed quiet, probably because of the shame and bad connotations associated with a condom. Our teacher explained to us about these contraceptive methods and taught us all the scientific aspects; however, the practical aspects were left for our own interpretation. I had a million questions running around in my mind, but I stayed quiet like the rest of my class. We went on to blow air into the condoms and use them as balloons and completely forgot about the questions and thoughts in our heads. In the evening that day ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’ had an episode on sex education released on YouTube. In the episode, a condom is shown being rolled onto a banana and this brought back the questions I had and I went on browsing around the internet on various sources to clear all my queries.
Later that week when I went for my coaching class I informed all of the friends of my new found knowledge. Most of them had not experienced sexual education in school. Some girls had attended a seminar or two about menstruation but they had been separated from the boys for the same. The disparity in sex education was prominent, the shame and myths associated with sexual intercourse and everything around it needs to be tackled for us to ease the problems that arise because of the same.
In most of the developed countries around the world, there is a curriculum comprising sexual education but there is a lack of uniformity in the system. Even with the increasing awareness the resources being used for educating people especially adolescents are ancient and lack proper practical knowledge. In countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America, there is a rather conservative sense of dealing with the topic of sexual education which clearly is devoid of open interaction where the students can ask questions pertaining to the topic with no hesitation. However, there have been reports of disturbing approaches in Belgium and other European countries where explicit information regarding sex positions was given to children as young as seven.
The right balance between the age of the student and the information being dispersed is essential to develop a successful sexual education program in a country. China has also marked itself as one of the most developed economies of the world but its education system has either an absence of sex education or an unenthusiastic approach to it. Textbooks with topics covering sex education created an uproar amongst parents even when sexually transmitted infections were spreading at an all-time high rate. This necessitates that every age group in a country needs sex education whether it be for removing myths and tackling shame or for providing essential information to young adults regarding contraceptive methods and condoms.
Less developed nations like India and Uganda have a larger obstacle in terms of the moral and ethical barriers that have been created between what is important to be taught to children and what should not be taught. There is no compulsory sex education in India despite the high rates of spread of sexually transmitted infections which need to be tackled. Many girls in India are unaware of menstruation and what is sexual abuse. Children might be undergoing sexual abuse but are unaware of what is being done until much later when the trauma gets to them. Sexual education is a necessity and always has been but now it’s time to take action in order to ensure a better standard of life for every citizen of our nation.
The stigma is the first thing that needs to be identified and pulled out from its roots. The education curriculum needs to be reformed to ensure that sex education is an important part of it. Schools need to educate children according to their age. Girls should not be informed about menstruation after they have experienced their first period but rather before. Information about menstruation should not only be restricted to female students but should also be given to male students. Children need to be taught about what is sexual abuse and what to do when they experience the same. Every teenager and adult should know about contraceptive methods and their benefits. For way too long we have ignored sexual education in our society but if people suffer just because we are shy and shameful when it comes to talking about topics related to sex and genitals, steps need to be taken in the right direction and fast. Otherwise, 12th graders in schools will just know how to blow balloons out of condoms instead of actually knowing how to put them on when the situation arises.