I read this article today Why Schools Can’t Teach Sex Ed and it has inspired this post.
As an advocate for young people’s positive health and development, i think
Sex Sexuality Education is critical for pre-teens and teenagers – girls and boys. I recently returned from a one-year learning adventure in Nigeria exploring adolescent health issues. My work focused on sexuality education and gender issues. My activities included conducting workshops and school outreaches with secondary school students on adolescent and sexual and reproductive health. Interestingly, many of the male students i interacted with felt that the information being taught (via the Family Life and HIV Education curriculum) was geared mostly at girls. You know, i have to agree with them. Many of the lessons discussed consequences of teenage pregnancy, myths about sexual health, and sexual abuse, and when these topics are taught, girls are often the focus; when girls get pregnant, they (not their male partners) are kicked out of school; girls are the ones who get abused by men, etc. These sentiments need to change; boys are also impacted by negative myths around sexual health and they also experience sexual abuse. The article and selected statements below speak to a couple of ideas that i think are very important when teaching sexuality education to young people and for all parents/guardians. (You might need to read more of the article to get the full perspective.)
We teach girls how to protect themselves, adds Wiseman, and their rights to say yes and no to sexual behaviors. But we don’t teach boys the complexities of these situations or that they’re a part of the conversation. “We talk to them in sound bites: ‘no means no.’ Well, of course it does, but it’s really confusing when you’re a 15-year-old boy and you’re interacting with girls that are trying out their sexuality,” she adds. Data show that boys are less likely than girls to talk to their parents about birth control or “how to say no to sex,” and 46% of sexually experienced teen boys do not receive formal instruction about contraception before they first have sex compared to 33% of teen girls.
A recent survey from Planned Parenthood shows that 80% of parents are willing to have “the talk” with their kids, but in order for these conversations to have real meaning, parents need to understand just how much sexual exposure their kids are getting daily and how soon. They also need to overcome the desire to lecture, and kids need to understand that the conversation is less about rules and more about guidance. All of this while having a conversation about what is usually a very private matter.
So, let’s incorporate boys in our sexuality education programming. After all, we all know that it takes two to tango.
You can learn more about my time and work in Nigeria here.