#Opinion

“The Birds & The Bees” is Exactly Why We Need Sex Ed In Schools

Why don’t we actually learn sex ed instead of silly analogies?

I was probably around 10 years old when my mum hit me with The Talk. You know, the birds and the bees. It did not go well. My reaction was very much: “Hah? Why are we talking about animals? And what does this have to do with me?!” That’s when she put it in actual words and told me this was her way of giving me sex ed. 😱

If I have kids, I must show them this dance while explaining the birds and the bees

Seperti yang dijangkakan, I had 5 billion questions. Why did people have sex? How does it work? What is ovulation? I’d stop getting my period if I got pregnant? Wait, I’M GOING TO BLEED EVERY MONTH? Why don’t boys bleed? And why don’t boys get pregnant when they have sex? HYMEN????? WHAT??????

My mum was not prepared! As someone who also didn’t get sex ed when she was younger, dia cam tak tau how to tell me all she knew. So while parents do play a role, it makes sense for schools and teachers to lead the charge because they’re able to reach more young people and start a safe, two-way convo while following a wholesome syllabus!

READ: 9 in 10 teens want education to protect against sexual abuse

Sex ed, otherwise known formally as comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), is a way to provide young people the knowledge, skills and values that empower them to take care of their health, well-being and dignity. And kalau tu pun tak cukup, here are 5 more reasons why we neeeeeeed sex ed in schools.

1. Not having formal sex ed makes sex very confusing to learn about.

I ended up “learning” more about sexual reproductive health through quiet conversations with friends during recess. Some said periods meant you were dirty. Some said if you had sex everyday baru you jadi pregnant or hymen kalau pecah memang hilang selama-lamanya. Macam-macam!

In the end, most of the time kita just cer Google (bless the www) and just hope the info we were reading was legit. So obvsly, it would have been a lot easier if we all learned the same thing! Age-appropriate sex ed would help young people make sense of all the conflicting and confusing messages we see and hear online and IRL.

2. Sex ed doesn’t increase sex; it just starts the conversation early.

Giving a kid a payung doesn’t mean it’s going to rain, but it does mean you are prepared if/when it does. In fact, many studies over the years from other countries have shown that having proper sex ed in schools isn’t gonna make kids have sex. What it does is teach them about what could happen and how they can protect themselves, which gives them the knowledge they need to make smarter decisions. In turn, they will be waaaay more aware of the potential outcome (e.g. early pregnancy, STDs, etc.)  The goal is to start the conversation about sexual reproductive health before teens can make uninformed decisions that may threaten their health and well-being.

3. Sex ed reduces rates of teen pregnancies and abortions.

It’s been proven that not teaching kids about sex doesn’t mean they won’t have sex! In 2017, the Ministry of Health surveyed 27,497 pupils from 212 schools nationwide of and found that 31.9% had their first sexual experience before the age of 14.

We clearly can’t stop teens from being kepoh – you could tell them never to have sex or even never tell them anything at all, but kids are curious. (I remember!) Sex ed will at least ensure they will know how to be safe about it. Providing condoms and teaching pasal other contraceptives will help prevent unwanted pregnancies and even abortions (which are 10/10 traumatic no matter what age you are). This also helps keep kids in school instead of becoming parents before they’re reading and missing out on their education.

 

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4. Sex ed teaches kids about saying and obeying “No means No”.

With #MeToo and sexual harassment being an ongoing convo online, it’s sooooo important to teach both boys and girls about consent: how to give it and how to honour it! Sex ed allows kids to really have a conversation about how to respect boundaries which can help prevent cases of sexual assault. This is especially important because gender norms in Malaysia tend to place girls in a lower status compared to boys – this means that girls are at a greater risk of experiencing violence, rape, and forced sexual encounters. Empowering girls and boys with comprehensive sexuality education will help them make safe choices together, on an equal footing.

It’s better teach kids to break away from harmful gender norms sooner rather than later. We can start shaping their attitudes now so they can grow up learning to treat others and themselves with respect and dignity. And this leads into my last reason why we need sex ed in school:

5. Most people will have sex at some point in their life.

This is a fact ugaiz. It might be when they’re in college, or their first job or when they’re 40. But if we want everyone to have a healthier sexual attitude and be safer when it comes to their choices, then melentur buluh biarlah ketika rebungnya. We can start preparing teens now sebelum terlambat so they are empowered and confident when it comes to taking charge of their health whether they’re 10, 20, 40 or 80!

There you have it! So many things have happened in the last two years, but sex ed in school has not and I think that’s a real shame. It’s about time that sex ed is seen as more than just a nice to have — it is a human right.

All kids and young people deserve sex and health education. If we can learn about sex online, then sex ed should definitely be something we learn at school too, to make sure we can all make the best choices for ourselves.

ANA Chatbot

Chat with the ANA Chatbot today and learn about YOUR sexual reproductive health and rights – including consent, healthy relationships, and more.
🌐 Web: https://frham.org.my/ChatWithAna/
📲 Whatsapp: 03-5633 7514

 

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Tati Wira

A 20-something fierce believer of children's rights!
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