Sex Education in Singapore (II)
With differing values associated with sex education, would it be better to leave sex education to parents?
Who should teach sex education?
But many parents are uncomfortable or unable to talk frankly to their sons and daughters about sex. You can't just say to your sons and daughters, "Sit down, Daddy (or Mummy) is going to teach you about sex?" Often, it means seizing (casual) opportunities to initiate a conversation about sex. But are we alert to these opportunities when they arise? Or when they arise, do we know what to say? Most parents are at a loss for the right words.
"... I never needed to resort to the stork or the 'cabbage patch' theory - those explanations parents once resorted to in response to the 'where did I come from?' question. In the 1990s, there was already a wealth of children's literature available to broach the subject. These books have been conceived to wonderfully illustrate sex and childbirth to suit various ages."
Editor, Mind Your Body
The Straits Times, September 18, 2008
What then should we do? Do we educate parents to talk about sex with their sons and daughters? Tan Hui Yee, a Straits Times correspondent proposes making sex educator courses compulsory for parents so that they learn how to broach sex-related topics with their children (The Straits Times, August 27, 2010). But how do you implement and enforce this training?
Or should we transfer sex education to the schools? In October 2000, the Ministry of Education launched a sexuality education resource package entitled The 'Growing Years' Series - for lower secondary students. The upper primary series entitled "Curious Minds" was released in November 2001. The upper secondary series "Sense and Sexuality" was released in August 2002.
Joshua Lye in his article in the Sunday Times dated 22 October 2000 raised the issue as to whether parents should cede the
responsibility of sex education to teachers.
"Can anyone truly be so objective so as to not allow his own convictions to show in what he imparts or the way he leads a discussion, no matter how nuanced? So, is entrusting the teaching of a topic that is so sensitive to a person whom the parents may know next to nothing about, the right thing to do?"
If sex education is taught in the schools, is there a system for parents to opt their children out (or in) of sex education classes? According to paragraph 2 of the press release by the Ministry of Education, parents have the choice to opt their children out of the 'Growing Years' Series programme. Note that the message communicated by an opt-out system is significantly different from an opt-in system.
Maybe, religious groups can take on the responsibility for sex education. But in my many years with a religious group, I have yet to hear words like penis, vagina, masturbate, petting, orgasm, etc. And who is going to teach those who are not part of any religious group? Are we going to sit back and leave our teens to learn from their friends and pornographic magazines, web sites & videos?