Tweaking sex education: Abstinence isn’t the only option (Vanessa Tan, TNP, 30/12, p21)
I refer to your article, “Abstinence over contraception?” (The New Paper, Dec 26).
I wish to express my disappointment over the Ministry of Education’s decision to emphasise abstinence over contraception in their sex education classes in view of criticism from members of the Catholic community.
It’s naive to think that preaching abstinence is the way to keep the number of teenage pregnancies down.
A 2011 study by researchers at the University of Georgia—of teen pregnancy and birth data from 48 US states—bears this out.
The study, the first large-scale one of its kind, found that the states that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programmes in public schools have “significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programmes.”
Science Daily online reported the study on Nov 29.
Although I’m single, I would want my younger siblings and cousins to have a sex-positive sex education.
My vague memories of sex education in secondary school involved lots of horrifying pictures of sexually transmitted diseases and scary-looking contraceptives.
We certainly weren’t taught about consent, masturbation, the different types of sexual expression, and other aspects of sex, which form a well-rounded sex education.
My peers and I had to turn to the Internet and each other for advice and guidance—certainly not the most accurate channels of information.
I’m not against abstinence—that’s a lifestyle choice for some to make. But I’m strongly against placing one lifestyle choice over another in what’s supposed to be a secular education system.
We should give equal weightage to the different options, present the students with the pros and cons, and allow them to make their own decisions.
Singapore is a secular state, and to preserve harmony between the different races and religions, it should remain so, even in sexuality education programmes.