Sunday, December 17, 2017

Handling the ‘sex-ed’ challenge

 In a recent article on the subject of sex education, president of the National Parent Teachers Associa­tion (NPTA) Zena Ramatali reiterated her desire to see it as being part of the school curriculum because, as she said in effect, things are getting way out of hand. 

Also expressing his view was president of the Public Secondary Schools Principals Association Ruben Hansraj, who was more guarded in his response. He said because sex is still taboo in society, some parents might think schools would be going too far in this regard. He felt there should be more consultation on the matter and even had reservations about the term “sex education”.

Anna Maria Mora, a psychologist, was more specific in her contribution, saying not only should sex education be taught in schools but it be should made an examinable subject.

I am surprised this issue is still making the rounds and something has not yet been done about it. Sex is not taboo in our society, it is talking about it to children that’s taboo. We are still wavering over whether to police them intensely or leave them alone.

The word “sex” should not be used as part of the subject in question. It sends a subliminal message of tacit consent of sex during school years. I would suggest the subject be called “Paren­tal Responsibility and Family Life”. 

At present, children think they are being taught how to have safe and responsible sex when it should be made clear that sex during school years should be frowned upon. 

Unfortunately, most elements of our society promote and provoke sexuality, such as in advertisements, so-called cultural activities involving music and dance, for example, gyrating suggestively at Car­nival time, etc. These can be toned down a bit. I am not against culture; indeed, I am involved in it.

Children should be taught about the consequences of premarital sex and premature parenthood. There are girls who are yet to finish secondary school and have more than one child. The youngsters should be taught the value of nuclear families and the rewards of dedicated parenthood and the sacrifices that have to be made in bringing up children. These are some of the things they should be taught, not how to have safe sex. 

Because religion has taken a back seat in the education system, this adds difficulty in tackling this problem; spirituality is a major consideration here.

I come from a single-parent family, but I had the support of aunts and uncles and siblings. The love of one parent is better than the absence or neglect of any. 

The subject does not have to be examinable. It is about preparing children for adulthood and responsible parenting. At my former alma mater, for the first two years, we had subjects like music appreciation and ethics, which were no-n-examinable. 

A strong foundation guarantees survival in the long term and makes us better equipped to overcome the many obstacles that confront us in life.

Joel Quintal 

 San Fernando