Sexual Education in Public School
The arguments concerning the necessity of sexual education appeared many years ago. Some parents and representatives of religious organizations are against any form of sexual education in public schools considering that it should be carried out by families or religious establishments. However, according to the article “Sex Education in Schools”, the majority of parents and teachers think that the involvement of schools in the process of sexual education is necessary. Sexual education should be carried out in public schools, because it helps the adolescents to determine themselves as the representatives of a certain gender, to understand their roles in the society, become able to distinguish the erotic feelings from esthetic ones, to avoid sexual pressure and to prevent undesirable pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
Should Sexual Education Be Taught in Public School?
Since the ancient time, the problem of sexual education has belonged to the most complex and neglected issues in the branches of pedagogics and psychology. The sexual education is one of the general spheres of education for a person, but it is peculiar due to its taboo nature. If other branches of education are more or less expressed and may be taught by an example and corrected by advice, many aspects of sexual education will remain prohibited, even if it is only the terminology.
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Nowadays the situation concerning the sexual education has changed. It is caused by the puberty at a younger age, early sexual relations and social factors. To help young boys and girls find their place in the society, it is necessary to unite the efforts of parents, teachers and psychologists. The problems of sexual education are related to the methodical equipment of the process and the unsuitability of the available materials. The mass production and usage of literature about the processes of conception and childbirth the issues of which are not controlled by the authoritative organizations cause a concern for psychologists and parents. Many of these books that were designed for kids do not conform to the requirements for children’s literature. They do not take into account the level of the development of the child’s perception when using the illustrative material. When adapting books for schoolchildren and teenagers, the author should follow the existing standards and the feelings of children of different ages. This situation takes place due to the fact that psychologists and pedagogues are not involved in the process of development of such material. The incompetent usage of such literature may cause a misunderstanding of a range of facts and the development of an incorrect attitude to the intimate information.
The aims and tasks of sexual education are fully determined by the interests of the society. It is important to educate a person in order for him/her to understand one’s role in the society. The sexual consciousness is a set of knowledge that forms the motivation to be a human and to belong to a certain gender. According to Riley-Smith, the main task of the teachers is to take into account the sexual and psychological peculiarities of each child and to help them feel as parts of society.
From the pedagogical point of view, a gender is a biosocial feature of a person. It is determined by the genetic and social structures, because its reflection in the behavior and actions is the result of sexual education and the influence of the environment. When investigating the notion of gender as a biosocial feature of a person, it can be assumed that sexual intelligence of a child is shaped by gender role socialization. The leading mechanisms of this socialization are gender identification and differentiation.
Gender socialization is an inevitable part of the socialization process, which includes three components:
- To determine him/herself as a representative of a certain gender;
- To develop gender preferences and values;
- To form behavior that is typical for a representative of a specific gender.
On one hand, gender identification is the authentication of a person in relation to the representatives of a certain sex. It may be revealed as the adoption of the behavioral norms typical for a certain sex and the orientation towards its requirements. Gender differentiation, on the other hand, is the division of a person from the representatives of the opposite sex based on the morphological and physiological features, on the basis of which masculinity and femininity are determined.
The sexual education at schools should include psychological and pedagogical, medical and biological, social and hygienic work with children and adolescents. This approach is designed to provide a correct functioning of physiological systems of the organism as well as proper sexual development of a child from the physical, moral and esthetic points of view. It should teach them to control their sexual feelings and not to confuse them with the esthetic ones.
Erotic feelings may appear at an early age, and with time they may strengthen and obtain different shapes. That is the main reason why the problem of sexual education is one of the most complex issues in the pedagogical sphere. Every day at schools and in families there appears a chain of difficult questions, but no book can provide the answers.
Sexual education has extreme importance for the further development of a child, his or her attitude to marriage, alternative sexual orientation and the future or existing sexual relations and behaviors. Proper knowledge gives an opportunity to avoid problems connected with the sexually transmitted infections and undesirable pregnancies. Unfortunately, not all parents and educational establishments can provide children with the necessary information. Hence, there appear mistrust and misunderstanding.
Recently there has appeared a tendency for the expansion of sexual education in public schools. However, more attention is paid to the prevention of AIDS than to the sexual education itself. Thus, the students only receive information on how to avoid pregnancies.
Unfortunately, the systems of education differ from state to state and include different content. Many schools do not have time to deal with such topics as homosexual orientation. The practical value of classes that start in the secondary school is much lower than that of those that start in the primary one. Consequently, the efficiency of the school sexual education is lower from the point of view of its real influence on the behavior of teenagers.
The physiological changes of the body of an adolescent and the increased production of sexual hormones cause the changes in the relations between the two genders that already have social and moral coloring. Parents and teachers should know and remember it. They should not limit the sexual education to the hygiene tips and advice about the safety of the processes of menstruation and wet dreams and the necessary hygiene measures connected with these notions. They have to evaluate physiological changes in the broader sense.
According to the article “Sex Education Should be Mandatory in All Schools”, one of the most successful sexual education programs includes the psychological aid that helps teenagers to avoid sexual pressure (The Guardian). The propaganda of abstinence may have good results only among the students who do not have any sexual experience. In any other situation, the usage of this approach is unreasonable taking into account the moral norms of the contemporary society. Besides, this approach has certain pressure, as in the end, it is an attempt to threaten the adolescents, which may cause an opposite reaction. The teenagers who have already had sexual experience will not choose an alternative model of behavior. It is necessary at least to explain the methods of pregnancy prevention by using contraceptive means.
During adolescence, it is of vital importance to prevent any emotional and stressful situations as well as mental traumas that may have an influence on the life of a child. One of the most frequent reasons are the undesirable pregnancies of friends, sexually transmitted infections and diseases connected with them, and even a possibility go get infected in the process of sexual relation. Multiple family problems may be caused by traumas that have taken place during adolescence. The teachers and professional psychologists can help adolescents to avoid possible stress by providing them with unbiased information and psychological aid. The most effective solution includes compromise that highlights the importance of sexual abstinence and provides an adolescent with alternative strategies of behavior.
To carry out this approach, the following steps should be:
- To motivate an adolescent to take independent and correct decisions;
- To provide teenagers with the information representing undesirable consequences of early pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections;
- To provide the adolescents who have chosen abstinence with the necessary psychological aid;
- To promote the establishment of the mutual understanding between teenagers and their parents;
- To provide highly qualified consultations and medical aid to everyone who needs it.
The key factor in reducing the number of undesirable pregnancies among adolescents is the development of the feeling of responsibility among young men when it comes to the usage of contraceptives. According to the article “State Policies on Sex Education in Schools” (National Conference of State Legislatures), the United States have the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world. The information about pregnancy prevention may guarantee the correct practical usage of contraception. However, in this case, sexual education should not be limited only to the school level, but it should also be carried out by the state and mass media. It is necessary for these programs to be practically directed and to provide the adolescents with the information about where the contraceptives may be bought, how the feeling of awkwardness when buying them may be avoided, why it is necessary to reconcile their usage with the partner, and why it is important to use them on a regular basis.
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It is vital to understand that the sexual education of adolescents cannot be successful if it is concentrated only on the biological aspects and the negative consequences. School programs will be inefficient if they do not deal with such aspects the intimate relations between people and the existence of different sexual orientations. Besides, if sexual relations between adolescents are assumed to be harmful and not to bring any joy and pleasure, this program will not cause anything but harm to those for whom it is designed.
Thus, the sexual education of children in schools is required, because it helps them to determine themselves as the representatives of a certain gender and to understand their role in the society. They become able to distinguish erotic feelings from esthetic ones, to avoid sexual pressure and to prevent undesirable pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. This education helps to develop the feelings of responsibility and has to be carried out in public schools.