In East and Southern Africa, pregnancy rates range from 15% to 25%, which are among the highest in the world. Additionally, many girls in several countries do not gain the necessary knowledge as they enter puberty and start menstruating. While early marriage and unintended pregnancy remain global concerns for girls' health and education, progress is still required.
Sex education and communication about sex play a crucial role in raising awareness and empowering young individuals for their sexual and reproductive health.
Safe sex education, or any terms used to describe it, is an educational program that encourages youngsters and adults to educate themselves to learn various aspects of sexuality, including thoughts, feelings, emotions, the body, and relationships. The main purpose of safe sex education is to empower youngsters and adults to develop respectful, positive relationships with their partners and themselves by improving their Health, well-being, and self-respect.
Safe sex education promotes sexuality in a positive and affirming manner, focusing on values such as respect, inclusiveness, fairness, equality, understanding others' perspectives, taking responsibility for our actions, and treating others how we would like to be treated. It reinforces healthy and positive beliefs about our bodies, growing up, forming relationships, engaging in sexual activities, and building strong family connections.
What youngsters and adults learn about sex education greatly impacts their personal and social lives. But what happens when we do not educate them about sex?
“We know that sex education can have a positive impact... So it is worrisome that some children will not receive that education because their parents have opted out of those classes,” McKay told Global News.
When a child learns about reproductive health and contraception, they are more likely to make informed choices and reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. Switzerland has achieved a very low teen pregnancy rate due to its well-established sex education programs, widespread belief in contraception among sexually active teens, availability of free family planning services, and affordable emergency contraception. Researchers in a 2016 study observed that teen pregnancy rates differ based on the educational level and cultural background of adolescent girls.
Another impact is safer sexual behavior. As highlighted in one report from 2014, when adolescents receive comprehensive sex education, they can make safer decisions and manage healthy sexual relationships in the future.
A recent study by UNESCO examined sex education programs in different countries worldwide. The study discovered that sexual education positively influenced behaviors and choices related to sexual activity. It found that sexual education programs delayed the start of sexual intercourse, reduced the frequency of sexual activity, decreased the number of sexual partners, promoted safer practices by encouraging the use of condoms, and increased the use of contraception methods.
One report noted that approximately one of every four individuals acquires a sexually transmitted disease annually. This implies that in a room with four people, one person may have an STD. Ideally, the number should be zero out of four, but the truth is that the person who contracted the disease didn't receive the necessary comprehensive sex education. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in open discussions about the topic, some teachers and health professionals tend to emphasize abstinence as the primary solution and quickly move on.
Sex education plays a crucial role in helping teenagers develop a strong understanding of their bodies and equipping them to navigate the world confidently, reducing their vulnerability to sexual predators. Moreover, it empowers both girls and boys to voice their boundaries if they are violated assertively.
It is widely acknowledged that countries that foster an open and positive approach to sexuality achieve improved sexual health outcomes.
By providing young boys and girls with comprehensive sexuality education, we not only decrease their chances of unplanned pregnancies and diseases but also enlighten and empower them positively.
Developing a positive and assertive attitude towards discussing sex openly and honestly is crucial for improving the sexual health of our community and helping individuals build happy and healthy relationships. Conversations about sex usually begin in sex education programs at schools, but these programs require significant changes. The current mandated sex education programs primarily focus on the basic anatomy of sex and emphasize abstinence.
However, a transformative approach to sex education that promotes positivity and inclusivity would educate individuals about the physiological, psychological, and emotional aspects of sex while also encouraging safe sex practices for both mental and sexual well-being.
Effective communication plays a vital role in all types of sexual relationships. When discussing sex in general, open communication is strongly linked to higher levels of overall relationship satisfaction. By openly communicating about our sexual needs and desires, we can experience higher levels of sexual pleasure, leading to increased overall relational happiness. This highlights the importance of positive and open communication about sex.
Here are some effective topics to communicate in sex education:
Research consistently demonstrates that young individuals gain comprehensive and inclusive sexual education during school. It is important to note that sex education does not encourage or make young people more prone to engage in sexual activities. Instead, it significantly enhances the likelihood of practicing safe sex.
Moreover, caregivers are crucial in fostering positive and healthy attitudes towards sexuality and promoting responsible behaviors among young people at home and school.