The New Straits Times reported some interesting news recently: “Draft on sex education ready for Cabinet study“.
“Among the topics covered are human development, relationships, marriage and family, interpersonal skills and sexual health and behaviour.”
The whole report was terribly vague, without answering some of the most pressing questions related to the sexual health of our teens:
1. Contraceptives: how, when, and why?
2. Teenage pregnancy
3. Dealing with Sexually Transmitted Diseases
4. Debunking the social stigma of sex in the Asian society
The closest the syllabus seems to come to these important topics is:
“And older schoolchildren will learn about reckless sexual behaviour and the dangers of sexually-transmitted diseases.”
The tone and wording of this tends to suggest the syllabus will focus on promoting abstinence (which it should, rightly so); however, such an approach, if left too narrow, can only be described as myopic at best and irresponsible at worst. Young Malaysians are having sex, regardless of what we tell them. In addition to educating them of the perils of their choices, we should also teach them on how to manage the outcomes of their choices.
A mature approach to sexual education will assume that some children will choose abstinence, and some will decide to have sex. Teaching our children about sex means dealing with both choices.