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What is sex education and why it is necessary at any age

Why can't we talk about sex


What is the meaning of sex education

Under the definition of sex education falls any training course that tells about the intimate life. It can be about pure physiology, or in conjunction with the psychology of relationships or a story about gender roles. Contrary to popular beliefs, sex education classes are not only for high school students, they are necessary for people of all ages — from young children, who are explained in simple language the ideas of consent and rejection, privacy and physical boundaries, to adults who learn to communicate with a partner and fill in the gaps in knowledge gained in childhood and youth. There are endless debates about what sex education should be. Different societies respond to this question in different ways: while in Sweden and the Netherlands, high school students are told about contraception and sexual orientation, in China, parents are limited to vague hints that sex is inseparable from marriage.


The world's first sex education program was born out of a practical necessity-the fight against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted (especially early) pregnancies. One of the first countries to introduce sex education was Sweden — back in the 30s of the last century, well-known sociologists Gunnar and Alva Myrdal, who studied low-income families, proved that sex education is necessary for them to improve their quality of life as well as affordable housing. This conclusion was prompted by the fact that such families usually had many children, and parents would be happy not to give birth to more of them — but they did not know anything about family planning methods. At that time, the views of scientists were considered controversial, but after a couple of decades, their conclusions began to apply to all segments of the population. In 1956, compulsory sex education classes were introduced into the Swedish school curriculum, and in 1964, students were no longer told that sex outside of marriage was unacceptable. The Swedish system of sex education is still considered the most progressive and today includes discussion of very different aspects of close relationships between people and everything that can affect them, including talking about alcohol, discussing gender issues and students ' ideas about their own bodies. Swedish sex education was again actively discussed last year, when a Swedish video about the penis and vagina, intended for children 3-6 years old, went viral.


How to talk "about it" with children of different ages

How to talk "about it" with children of different ages

Information in sex education classes for children of different ages should be provided according to age and in a form that is understandable and accessible to the child. For example, starting from the age of two, you can and should talk to a child about the ideas of consent and rejection, and you should discuss more "adult" issues with school children, such as sexual orientation.


Teaching sex education in primary schools is common, for example, in the Netherlands: Dutch children are taught about what it means to be in love, and are taught to be aware of the boundaries of their own bodies. Contrary to prejudice, children in primary school are not taught about the subtleties of intimate relationships: sex education programs in primary school are much more likely to include conversations about feelings, as well as basic explanations of the sexual differences between boys and girls, and an answer to the question of where children come from. In addition, children are told about the "underwear rule": they are told that all those parts of the body that are covered by underwear are intimate and no one else can see or touch them.




This approach is supported by the Council of Europe, which has launched the "One in Five" campaign against child sexual abuse. As part of this campaign, children are encouraged to report correct names of genitals and are taught not to hesitate to talk about them with their parents or doctors. In addition, children are taught to distinguish" good "secrets (pleasant and easy) from" bad " ones (inspiring fear or anxiety) — the latter must be shared with their parents. Abusers often create an atmosphere of secrecy and shame around their victims, and as long as the child remains silent, the parents may not know that they have been abused.



The authors of such programs rely on data from numerous studies confirming that children who do not have basic knowledge are more likely to suffer from pedophiles than their more savvy peers. Similar measures are being prepared in Malaysia, where a scandal involving a pedophile who raped dozens of children across Southeast Asia broke out in 2014. Professional associations of pediatricians in Malaysia called for the introduction of such measures: despite the fact that in Malaysian society, talking about sex is still taboo, doctors advocate sex education for children — for their own safety.




As children grow older, they begin to learn other topics. In the Netherlands, young children do not talk about sex directly, but they are gradually brought to this topic: by the age of seven, school children should know the names of male and female genitals, and by the age of eleven, they should be familiar with topics such as sexual harassment and erections.


In the canadian province of Ontario, the second graders in the classroom studying the issues of consent and sexual integrity, the seniors get acquainted with the concepts of gender identity and sexual orientation, and seventh-graders learn about the dangers of sexting and STDs. In the UK, sex education is mandatory for children 11 years and older. Some elements of the program are mandatory for study, in other cases, parents have the right to take the child from lessons.


Experts believe that at the age of 9-11, school children should receive information about puberty and how their body changes, as well as learn more about peer pressure and how to resist it. At the age of thirteen and older, students need information about body image, pregnancy, abstinence, contraception, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as a conversation about how to build relationships.


Sex education for teenagers includes stories about puberty, sexual orientation, and the importance of contraception and doctor visits. Sex education classes can be divided between several subjects, such as biology and social studies.




In recent years, we have heard more often about the need to talk openly with teenagers about sex — primarily because modern teenagers have access to much more pornography than previous generations, and they often perceive porn films as a teaching tool. Some experts say that sex education works best when children discuss important issues for them in a comfortable environment, and not just talk about the structure of the genitals. They believe that the best results are achieved by a trusting atmosphere and an honest conversation about the ethical and psychological aspects of relationships — respect for personal boundaries, consent, pleasure, sexual orientation and ideas about your own body.


As the taboo on talking about sex is lifted, students are starting to ask more questions. Proper lessons can help teenagers cope with complexes about their own appearance and their body, and sometimes with bullying from classmates. In addition, some modern experts say that sex education classes should not be divided by gender: not only girls, but also boys should know about women's health and menstruation. In their opinion, this approach creates a simpler and healthier attitude to women's health.


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