Saturday, 31 March 2012

Adolescent Sexuality and Family Life Education

Family life education is one of the core aspects of population education. It encompasses of issues on family life, sex, the environment and health. The supposed family life education con-tent is based on some universally applicable basic concepts, which make the subject to be an appropriate panacea to the problem of adolescents’ sexuality behaviour. Among the considered basic concepts are:

(a) The need to have respect for others, especially persons of the opposite sex. This is based on the premise that if young ones can truly learn this, it will make them to understand what respect means and hold on to it as a value so that they could be refrained from behaviour, which is potentially harmful to others.
(b) The need for self-respect, self-esteem and high self-concept. Although this is pertinent to both boys and girls, it is more important for girls. This concept will allow the young one to be exposed to the variety of life options they will encounter while giving up, get them prepared for life eventualities and also tactically equip them to make appropriate choice in the presence of different alter-natives for example chosen to finish their formal education and avoid early pregnancy.
(c) The need to know that young ones should learn to plan. This includes the importance and feasibility of family planning. It is proper for young ones to know that when children leave school, at whatever age, they need to understand the importance of planning the first pregnancy in terms of benefit (health, social, and economic) that planning can bring to them and their children. They need to also understand that, ideally, children are borne out of a conscious, carefully throughout decision on the part of loving parents
(d) The need to know that behaviour has consequences. This is on the premise that since it is possible for individuals to control their behaviour, they must be ready to accept the responsibility for whatever the consequences of their behaviour is. For example in the area of reproductive behaviour, they should understand that consequences of such behaviour always have lifelong implications.
(e) The need to learn how to withstand social pressures. This is based on the fact that young ones are prone to face pressure on many issues from many quarters while growing up. Pressures may come from their peers in society where early adolescents sexual activity is prevalent; pressures may also come from parents or other relatives and neighbours on many other life issues. Family life education will help adolescents to recognize these types of social pressure and help them to deal with other in a responsible manner.

An overview of what the level of effectiveness of family life education would be can be ascertain from what operates in the country that had made related education compulsory from time immemorial. It is worthy of note that Sweden, a country where sex education had been made compulsory since 1956, has a home choice rate that is less than the United States, one of the lowest rape rates in the world, and has effectively avoided the population explosion and that the rate of occurrence of sexually transmitting disease is considerably lower. While joining issues with the opponents of whatever form of comprehensive reproductive health education, the Advocates for Youth, a non –governmental organisation, discusses and enumerate the effectiveness of reproductive health education bringing their argument on the report of studies conducted by their researchers in some European countries where they operate. The report Advocate For Youth (1955) reveals that reproductive health education such as Family life education / sex education:
(a) Eliminate ignorance –while sexuality is a normal, healthy part of living, too many families maintain harmful silence about the issue, giving young people the message that sexuality is bad. Ignorance flourishes in such a situation and prevent adolescents from making informed and responsible decisions about abstinence, contraception, sexuality and relationships.
(b) Teaches about abstinence, and helps teens build skills to remain abstinence if they so decide.
(c) Allows total dissemination of information to the youth since withholding information does not help young people make informed and responsible choices. Sexuality active teens feel stigmatized by messages that only abstinence is safe or appropriate and may be less likely to use contraception when they have intercourse. After all, latex condoms provide infinitely more protection from unwanted pregnancy and STDs than no contraception at all.
(d) Does not lead young people to experiment with sex. It helps teens delay sexual intercourse and to use contraception effectively. It provides information about sexuality and age when appropriate comprehensive reproductive health education that begins early and sustained can help teens delay sex and use more effective methods of birth control once they become sexually active.
(e) Stresses Values. It allows students to examine behavioural values, and norm in order to weigh the consequence of their decisions. The value-based components’ help young people identify their own values based on their culture, family and religious background. Comprehensive reproductive education does not attempt to replace family values, but rather help young people to identify them so they can be more aware of which decisions are right for them and why.
(f) Promotes positive sexual health. Quality reproductive health education focuses on both factual information and skill development. Skills components address setting goals communicating about whether to have sex, negotiating abstinence or contraceptives use, resisting peer pressure and other important abilities.
(g) Gives room for sexuality educators to work in concert with parents to promote healthy adolescents sexual development. The supplement educations received by parents through sexuality educators help them over-come the difficulties they face when they are the sole providers of information and guidance.
(h) Leads to open communication between parents and children on sexuality matters. It eliminates the anxiety expressed by parents about not knowing what to say when to say it or being uncomfortable talking with young people about intimate issues. Comprehensive sexuality education enhances young people’s knowledge, clarifies their values, improves communication skills and encourages sexually active teenagers to use contraception.

The above report therefore shows that family life education will promote attitudes that are necessary for adolescent to function positively and responsibly in the society. In order to take into account the needs, the aspirations and cultural characteristics of the African Societies(at large), recognition would be accorded the impression, which the word ‘sex’ connote and spread amongst all, and sundry. It is in this regard that I am showcasing family life education rather than sex education even though both are synonymous, family life education is more comprehensive and encompassing than sex education in all ramifications. This is to make the curriculum of the subject to be sensitive to the local culture and be acceptable to parents and all other stakeholders in education.

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