Opinion: Understanding the need for sex education

by Stand to end rape (STER) Initiative

Sex education is coaching on matters generally relating to human sexuality. These issues include emotional relations/responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual abuse and violence, sexual/reproductive health, consent, sexual/reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.


The topic of sex education is a sensitive one globally, especially the aspect that relates to sexual abuse and violence. This is because sexual violence has a range of complex effects on the victims and the society. With the rising rate of sexual violence around the world, most researchers have focused on the causes of sexual violence and not often how to address the problem. This is a major problem faced many large societies including the Nigerian society. The United Nations in 2016 reported that 46% of women in Nigeria between the ages of 12-50 have been in some way sexually abused. This figure is a subtle cry for help; we need to face the harsh reality as a society and admit that our inability to talk about issues pertaining to sexual violence is part of what has led us here.


Recently, STER (Stand to end rape) Initiative posed a question on social media via twitter, asking its followers a how they learnt about sex and who gave them sexual responses. 90% of the respondents admitted learning about sex “R” rated movies while others disclosed that they learnt from watching older people have sex. Now, it is very confusing for a child whose emotions are raging to fully understand what sexuality and its different components are. This is why he/she needs to be taught about it by older and well-grounded people and not through movies. This is where sex education comes in.


During puberty, a child begins to experience changes in their body, changes they may not fully understand. This is coupled with different emotions they may not be able to comprehend. As humans, when confused about things, being able to ask questions help us get by. That is why sex education is important. It is imperative that these children know who to pose their questions to and get quality replies. This may be an uncomfortable topic to have with your child; however, it is important to speak to them about sex and what it entails so that they don’t go outside to learn harmful or incorrect things about sex and the change their body is undergoing.


One of the major issues that surround sex and all its components is the harsh reality of contacting diseases. With sex education, children can be taught different means (abstinence, condoms etc) to remain healthy. There are some Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infractions (STIs) that must be taught to these children so that they know how to avoid them, stay safe and healthy.


Sex education also helps children explain and control their emotions. It is through Sex Education that the subject of consent is being taught. Last week, many stories on sexual violence filled the Internet and from the stories, you could sense that the perpetrators of these crimes did what they did because no one has told them otherwise. They all felt entitled to the bodies of their victims because they were never educated on the negative effects of sexual abuse on victims. Now when children start having these feeling, some societies tag them as wrong but this is also false. With sex education, they would get to understand that what they feel is totally normal and should not be perceived as a wayward feeling. They’d also be informed on how to deal with these sexual urges and the importance of consent if they eventually feel the need for sex.


Another major truth we have to understand is that if we don’t form a system and a good curriculum to teach children about sex, they will find a way to learn about it on their own. The age of curiosity would set in and any piece of information they get would be considered as reliable and expedient. Some schools already adopt sex education across Nigeria and teach in classrooms. However, they are still prohibited to saying some few words, such as sex, condoms and abortion. We must come to realise that the technological advancement of the world has made it so easy for any child to dig a source on the Internet that may provide dangerous or inaccurate information. This is something we should avoid. Being self-taught on sex can lead to various misunderstandings later in life and can land a child in trouble.


If at this day and age we have people coming out to say “Oh I did not realise it was bad to sexually assault” or “I’m not sure how to control my urges”  then we have failed as a society to help educate our children on what is wrong and what is right. This is something that we have in the power of our hands to change. Let us leave the mentality of sex education being a mean of corrupting innocence to a place where we see its importance and ability to save future generations from diseases and wrong choices.


Sex educations exist for the sole purpose of educating and steering people from alternate life choice. That’s is why STER is calling for an intervention in our society. We need parents giving their children proper coaching on sex. We also need the Ministry of Education to understand the importance of sex education, how it can go a long way in saving lives and reducing sexual violence in Nigeria, train special personnel on guidance and counselling and impose it on every school’s curriculum.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija


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