Sun, 15 Jun 2003

Is sex education important for you?

Leo Wahyudi S, Contributor, Jakarta

Sex education is not a how-to course in having sex, although that is what many teenagers we spoke to seemed to think. It's about the responsibilities that we have to take on when we graduate to the big world of relationships.

Boo Boo, 15, student of a private senior high school:

There are positive and negative aspects to sex education. The positive side is that students are exposed to the impact of misunderstanding what sex is about. At least students can think and can make decisions because they are exposed to what should and should not be done.

However, such education sometimes is just too theoretical when the youth of today has already been exposed to so much about sex.

I think, for some experienced students, such education will not be effective because they are already sexually experienced. For example, watching a porn movie is not something tantalizing anymore because almost all of my classmates have watched them.

Just to watch is still OK for me provided we don't practice it. And at this point, there is a need for us to have sex education so that we know the risks of having sex.

On the other hand, I have only superficial knowledge about sex from my friends, although I reckon they are unreliable sources.

Delicia, 17, student of a private senior high school:

I think it's better to have reliable exposure to sexual matters from sex educators or books or leaflets rather than getting to know everything about it from experimentation.

I believe that sex education provides trustworthy information for young people.

Just like many other parents here, mine never told me explicitly about such matters. My mother talked to me about my period the first time I had one, but never again.

I have a boyfriend, although my parents once asked me not to go out with him. But now I'm allowed to go out on dates. I have to keep my parents' trust, so I don't want to experiment sexually with him.

Despite the interaction with my classmates, I almost never try to look for misleading information on sex. And I'm not interested in seeing porn books or magazines. I'd rather read comic books and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Febi, 18, student of a state senior high school:

It is necessary to have sex education here in anticipation of the alarming trends in behavior among young people. It's too bad that many still perceive it as taboo to discuss sex. I've never had any sex ed. at school.

Well, a friend of mine got pregnant out of wedlock. She's a victim of sexual ignorance, and that's a pity.

Besides, I also see that many schoolgirls work after school as prostitutes, and I've even heard that some of them go to school with me ...

Many times my classmates have invited me to spend the night at cafes or discotheques, but I keep saying no. I just think that I don't belong in such places.

Yasinta, 16, student of a state senior high school:

We need sex education to correct misperceptions. I had a wrong idea about what reproductive organs looked like until I was shown a video at school.

However, I cannot deny that I still feel embarrassed to study together in class when we are looking at images of genitalia.

I have to force myself to remember that it's only a scientific explanation.

One thing I cannot tolerate is young people who abuse their knowledge by doing things that put them at risk. It's really embarrassing, if I may say so.

Yosimar, 16, student of a state senior high school:

I believe that promiscuity is now so rampant among the young generation that they need reliable resources to enlighten them about sex.

It's a pity that our school doesn't have a sex education program. I deal with the situation by sharing information with friends and reading books or surfing the Internet.

Worse still, our parents make sex off-limits for discussion. I'm afraid that we really know nothing about sex. When we discussed student reproduction in class, it was so unpleasant and embarrassing. Some friends tried to be serious about it, but the rest joked about it to deal with their unease.

Lack of knowledge about sex can also be seen in the alarming number of rapes committed by people my age.

Kuat, 17, student of a private senior high school:

I don't see the need and importance of sex education for us.

Many people, including young people, have easy access to pornography, as well as all the prostitutes operating so freely ...

In looking at actual youth lifestyles today, I'd blame the lack of faith and piety in their lives, not the absence of sex education.

I'd add that the lack of morality in young people today is at an alarming level, even though we study religion in school.