THE deviant abomination of instituting a comprehensive sexual education programme starting at the primary school level under the existing and clearly lacking Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum was discussed recently at the Ministry of Educations National Consultation on Education 2020 and naturally some people lost the plot.
Trinbagonians by nature are selectively conservative. While for some it’s okay for their children to have internet access, watch television and talk to other children where they will for sure pick up some sexual tidbits, it’s not okay for schools to expose their precious womb fruit to biological and psychological lessons on sexuality.
Now I’m not gonna to lie, primary school seems a tad bit young.
If my six-year-old knew how her father and I like to spend our free time, she may check herself into an isolated convent on a mountain in Eastern Europe and take a vow of silence.
But considering the ease of access our children have to information and misinformation these days, as well as the horrifying rise in sexual grooming and assault against children, educating and empowering our children about sex needs to be done at an early age.
Perhaps we can start slow, with teaching them about their bodies, boundaries, consent and what is okay and what is not okay. Then go biological around standard four or five, because if you think some other well informed child hasn’t explained their version of how babies are made to your nine-year-old you are all kinds of wrong.
For all those clutching their pearls and holding onto ridiculous beliefs regarding sexual education I have taken the time to lay some things out and dispel some of those antiquated opinions swimming around in your head. Let’s begin.
Firstly we must understand what constitutes a comprehensive sexual education (CSE).
CSE is meant to not only educate but to empower. Through biological and psychological teachings, children and teenagers are given the information and tools they need to make smarter choices.
They are taught about the different types of sexual activity, how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.
They are taught what activities may lead to risky sexual practices and the physical and emotional toll they may take, how consent works, what is okay and what is not okay.
They are empowered to take control of their bodies through consistent fact based education versus what their friends told them or what they saw online. The stigma of sexual activity is lifted and students are given a safe environment to ask questions and share concerns.
But Alicia won’t this encourage our youth to go have sex all over the place willy nilly? WRONG! Study after study has shown us that CSE does NOT result in a pack of sex crazed adolescents. In fact, children and teens given a proper sexual education are more likely to delay engaging in sexual activity and when they do, they are more likely to use protection.
For example a 2010 study conducted in Kenya showed that children who received a CSE from an early age, kept it in their pants longer and those who were engaging in hanky panky were more likely to use protection than their counterparts, whose parents were afraid school-based sexual education would corrupt their babies.
But Alicia shouldn’t parents be the ones to teach these things to their children? Here me now, some adults out there don’t know their elbow from their behind. They themselves are victims of poor or non-existent sexual education.
What CSE provides is consistency! Not all parents will teach the same things, not all parents have the same attitudes towards sexual health and this can be a problem.
Example Parent A tells child A sex is only marriage and completely brushes over protection, consent etc. Parent B tells child B to “like yuh self” and may or may not throw a handful of condoms at them. Parent C says nothing at all.
So while parents are responsible for some basic level of sexual education, especially when it comes to personal morals or religious views; a consistent, biological and psychological lesson plan should be covered by schools if we want all children on the same safe and empowered page.
Alicia, what about religious views on sexuality? Listen, I am a Catholic and my religion is extremely important to me. Instilling the values and lessons of kindness and acceptance as laid out by my Jesus in my children is important to me. Buuuutttt, not everyone subscribes to my religious beliefs or even to any form of religion.
Religion and matters of education, like matters of the state should always be kept separate.
I went to a Catholic secondary school and I will tell you for free them girls were getting busy from early.
Teaching abstinence only has not been proven to prevent teenage sexual activity.
Denominational schools should be teaching CSE in conjunction with their religious teachings, because maybe if you have a teenager who is informed about their sexuality and their religion you create a teenager who will make better choices.
Anyway I’m going to end it here before I get stoned the next time I am in public for trying to corrupt our youth.
But it is time for us to look around and see what is happening. Our children are exposed to more from an early age, they are more connected than ever, they are more in danger than ever and we should be doing everything we can to ensure they are fully educated about their bodies and provide them with what they need to be empowered.