Forum letter: Why it is crucial to opt in

Posted On: August 24, 2010

This letter appeared at Straits Times forum on Mon 23 Aug.

I REFER to Saturday’s special report, ‘Sex education: Too little, too late, and too vague?’

In recent weeks, there were media reports about more girls reaching puberty early – from the United States and Britain to Singapore. What this means is that our young ones are maturing faster physically even if they might not be mentally ready for sex.

Our world is more complex than before. Sex is romanticised and women are glamorised as sexual objects so much so that this is their reality. Social media like Facebook and YouTube have changed the way our youngsters make friends, date and learn. Who knows what lurks in the darkest corners of the Internet?

If information is power and knowledge is king, why are we as a society so fearful of providing accurate and factual sexual information to our young people?

We may want to protect our young ones by teaching them to postpone acting on their sexual feelings until they are adults. But, in reality, we might in fact be retarding their development, and affecting their ability to make sound, safe and independent decisions throughout their lives.

We have to be careful not to bombard our young ones with negative messages of sex – it may set them for a life in which they don’t think about sexuality from a pleasure perspective at all. This can result in a lifelong inability to seek sexual satisfaction within intimate relationships.

Our young people need the skills to make safe and healthy decisions not only about sexual intercourse and contraceptive use, but also about communication, relationships, diversity and countless other issues that are related to sexuality.

I urge parents to let their children attend the Health Promotion Board’s compulsory sexuality education programme.

They should think twice before they opt out:

  • Are they able to provide the same accurate and factual sexuality education at home?
  • Remember, the child is going to get the same information afterwards from their classmates – distorted no less.

Hence, by opting out, parents may be doing more damage than good. They can still discuss what was taught in school as well as express their sexual views and values at home.

Dr Martha Lee
Clinical sexologist

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