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Tuesday, October 14, 2003


Family Life Education and Guidance
(The Taboo Subject : Sex Education and Guidance)


At the launch of the National Poster Competition 2003 in conjunction with World Population Day, our Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil had this to say :: "Parents must learn to be frank with their children about issues like unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases". She also urged the Education Ministry to include reproductive health as a subject in school, said parents could come in to help with the mental, emotional and psychological aspect of the issue.
Whether one calls it reproductive health education, family life education or simply sex education, it is time the Ministry of Education introduces it in schools. Sex education should no longer be a taboo subject. The incidence of unwanted, unplanned teenager pregnancies, teen marriages and teenagers having sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase. And before these get even worse, steps have to be taken to nip these in the bud.
Without the Ministry taking positive steps, the teens are going to get their information on such topics from magazines and peers and of course in this age of ICT from the NET. Without proper guidance and support from the family, the information they get may be improperly understood and applied.
Sex education is not about just sex and reproduction alone, it is much more. Sex education may be said to be the process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships and intimacy and also includes knowledge on reproductive health, contraception and family life. Empowering our teens about these topics can protect them from potentially negative outcomes of their sexual behaviour. Negative outcomes include the following :: sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Our teens should also be taught to acquire skills on how to communicate effectively, negotiate, make decision, listen and how to acquire further life skills and knowledge, skills which will help them in later living.
Already reproduction is being taught within the subject of science in our lower secondary classes and this may be an appropriate time to introduce the basic topics on sex education to our school children. They are at an age when puberty has started or about to and may have the initial stirrings and yearnings to know more about their own sexuality. In the upper secondary classes, they may then be introduce gradually to more indepth topics as the hormones start raging and surging. And finally before they leave school, they may be counselled on various other skills before they venture further into the marriage market. Already there have been suggestions to have premarital counseling for all.
Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil must be commended and we must join in to urge the Ministry to no longer consider sex education as a taboo subject and have it introduce for the school children. Parents will have to play their rightful role and complement the schools in ensuring that the education their children received is not devoid of those attributes which only parents can provide.

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