Let's Update Sex Education
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Sex education in Scotland needs to be updated.
This is an issue that I have been passionate about since discovering Laura Bates' 'Everyday Sexism Project’ when I was just 15. The current level of sex education in our schools is shocking; sex education should evolve year after year to adapt to each new situation young people face. With 50% of teenagers in Scotland believing that schools are failing to fully educate them on sex and relationships (The Herald, 2014), could this be the source of the ever growing rape crisis? Why is consent not on the curriculum?
The official guidelines offered by the Scottish Government through Curriculum for Excellence in regards to sex education are as follows: "Schools will equip young people with information on a wide range of issues, depending on their age and stage. This could include puberty, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), contraception, how to access sexual health services to the tasks involved in looking after a baby.” We cannot continue to pretend that our young people are too naïve to deal with issues of consent, sexual assault and harassment through social media. It is our job to educate them and redefine sexual education for future generations.
An alarming number of teens still believe that you must go on to engage in sex: if you have kissed; if a sexual act has been initiated; if you have had sex with this partner before. For teenagers to develop healthy relationships they must be taught about consent and that it is always their right to say no. The only sex education offered in school still boils down to puberty, the basic biology of sex, and hideous pictures of STIs- not even close to what is desperately needed to educate the adults of tomorrow. Society has moved on, education has moved on – so sex education must move on.
A further issue with the promotion of safe sex in schools is the lack of attention drawn towards LGBTQ+ individuals. Health and wellbeing education should by nature be inclusive of all sexual orientation and identities; we must cease teaching that sex exists only between a man and a woman. We have a duty to ensure the evolution of sex education to make a difference for the next generation of young people.
New social media sites are created frequently and pose new threats to teenagers. Health classes need to educate not just on the fundamentals of stranger danger and not giving out your personal details online, but must also adapt to consider the dangers of sites such as Snapchat. New problems develop too frequently for adults and teachers to be expected to keep up which is why it is crucial that young people become involved in the process of redefining sex education.
If primary school children were taught that their bodies were their own and no one else's, if pre-teens were taught they weren't entitled to anyone's body because of gender, and if rape was discussed openly amongst older teenagers, the statistics would differ greatly. Sex education in schools should focus more on creating a positive attitude towards sex, not scaremongering which results in urgency to get first time sex over with amongst teens, and an increase in sexual assault. Sex education must keep up with the increasing dangers of each new social media site, and strive to keep young people educated and safe. Consent should be on the curriculum and we shouldn't be afraid to discuss rape in order to make a difference.
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