Editorial: Not better in the dark-A A +A
Sunday, June 24, 2012
FOR many, an Aug. 18, 2011 network report about two students caught having sex in a car in Quezon City seems very much like the usual tabloid fodder, it no longer qualifies as news.
However, after sieving the article’s titillating details, the event is full of red flags for those sensitized to the need to inform youths and enable them to behave more responsibly in interpersonal relations, particularly in physical intimacy and reproductive health.
Schools, with their burgeoning populations of youths—sexually active, either in potential or actuality—present a challenge.
Age of vulnerability
There’s high interest in sex, stimulated by adolescence, peers or immersion in a culture that is permeated with liberal Western values.
Part of many youths’ transition to adulthood is a proclivity for rebellion and experimentation. These make many vulnerable to unprotected sex, unplanned pregnancy and illegal drug use.
For instance, drug abuse involves compulsive behavior that pushes the dependent to seek stronger “fixes,” frequently ending in intravenous drug use, needle-sharing and sexually transmitted infections (STI).
In many campuses are students who finance their education and vices as commercial sex workers. Among them, intravenous drug use and STIs are common.
Beyond campuses are the community-based youths who, without the distractions of lessons and higher aspirations for employment, are as vulnerable or even more so than their student peers.
What has happened to efforts to equip these youths with information and skills to preserve their health and future?
The coeds that were caught having sex while parked in a dark street along Barangay Mariana in Quezon City were courting many risks. According to the cops who exposed and chased the couple after they attempted to escape, they were vulnerable to carnappers and criminals who could have exploited the situation.
Uninformed, sexually active youths face other dangers, too.
Sex education is a way of shielding youths from the consequences of unconsidered decisions. While sectors oppose the introduction of sex education into classroom modules and discussions, it’s undisputed that students spend a lot of time in schools.
Campuses are the locus of sexual activity, despite the best efforts of campus watchdogs.
Conservatives argue that only parents should discuss with their children matters relating to intimacy and reproduction. Yet, there are parents who avoid this responsibility because of work, communication gaps with their children or embarrassment.
What is the point of education if not to equip a person for full actualization of potentials?
When school opened in 2010, a group of parents filed a case at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to block the Department of Education from implementing sex education in selected public schools.
According to a report uploaded on www.abs-cbnnews.com,Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, author of the Reproductive Health Care Act, said that many youths are already sexually aware at a young age, with some having boyfriends or girlfriends in grade 4.
A discussion of sex and intimacy, facilitated by a trained adult, is less prone to errors and misinformation than advices or impressions from a youth’s peers, pop media or pornography.
Citing studies made by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, Garin said that knowing their bodies and understanding their sexuality has helped youths by “reducing the age of first sexual contact…, reducing the incidence of induced abortion, premarital sex, and even delaying the age of marriage.”
While the Reproductive Health Bill is still awaiting passage in the 15th Congress, parents, educators and community leaders should seek to guide youths. The objective is not to stimulate them to sexual experimentation. Education is early prevention.
For many youths, particularly girls, knowing their rights over their bodies and their future in education and work are important for bolstering their confidence and skills to negotiate with their boyfriends, assert their interests and deal with emotional coercion to force sex against their better judgment.
It is tragic to leave youths groping in the dark.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 25, 2012.