With approximately 50% of adolescents sexually active by the time they are in Year 10, what skills and knowledge do they need to have to make, good decisions about their personal health? Discuss.
“The development of a positive, healthy and responsible sexuality requires information, education and improved access to services. Increasing the available options enables young women and young men to exercise informed, self determined decisions”. (Youth Health Council – South Australia)
There has been a drastic change in our life styles, family structures and social system in the last two decades; today’s youth is much more technologically advanced, mentally sophisticated and socially active. It is true that health and wellness are also touching great heights but still with all the new advancements and open culture, it is important that the young people and specially adolescents are empowered with required information and knowledge which will help them to take the right decisions related to their health. In this paper we will discuss the information to be imparted and the method to be used educate and encourage the youth to take right decisions related to their health.
It is important for the young people to understand and acknowledge the need to be sexually healthy. It is a fact that young people have a higher risk of acquiring HIV, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancy. It is required that a dual education technique is adopted which involves the knowledge getting transitioned from both public and school-based system. The following are required to be explained well:-
Contraceptive Choices – There are lot of options available related to contraceptives, it is an important and useful method of not only avoiding pregnancy but also maintaining adequate time difference between children.
Safe Sex – If we look at the numbers we will infer that not a lot of young people engage in safe sex, hence it is important to make them understand that there is a need to negotiate sexual relationship.
Sexual Orientation – This is a recent addition in the list of issues that need required information and knowledge, it is now time to talk about this freely and encourage the youth to voice their opinions in this matter.
Adequate Sex Education – This is misinterpreted at times to involve education strictly related to sex however the reality is that this will be a wider discussion and will primarily talk about the healthy relationship and the essence of adopting healthy lifestyle.
Problems and Solutions
Today’s youth faces a great pressure from media, social environment and peers to get indulged into sexual activities , this adds to the increased difficulty faced by young people in order to understand and determine their sexual readiness.
Confidentiality also plays an important role in checking the easy access to knowledge as for the young people living in isolated geographical locations, an access to a medical practitioner who can answer their questions might be difficult.
It is not only the sexual behavior, there is also another important factor that needs to be addressed and that is explaining the youth about their role in the society to enhance the level of sexual health .
Method: How to ensure that the information reaches in the right manner . . .
Talking about it – Parents and Teachers must ensure that they frankly talk about this problem and use appropriate ways to make the adolescents comfortable to ask you about any questions or concerns they might have about the same.
Be approachable and “unshockable” – We must ensure that the adolescents are given enough space that they feel free to approach in case if they want to share any thing related to sex and health.
Foster Self Respect – Adolescents, especially young girls need to be adequately educated about their body and she needs to be explained that sex is just not a method of reproduction but is also a pleasure and needs not to be feared.
Highlighting Healthy Relationships – It is important that apart from the basic physical aspects of having sex, we also lay importance to the need of safety, mutual respect and care in maintaining a healthy relationship.
Realization of Sexual Responsibility – In order to develop a sense of responsibility the adolescents must be taught that they are equally responsible for their behavior and we need to help them understand what they need from a relationship. This is important to let the young boys know that mutual respect is very important and everyone is free to take their own decisions about sex, therefore forcing someone to have sex is a crime.
Medical Conditions and Preventive Tests – Apart from the basic protections from sexually transmitted infections the adolescents must know about having regular health checks (testicular cancer checks for men, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunization for both women and men and pap smears for women).
Accurate information at right time – It may be person dependant and every individual may be mature enough to talk and discuss about sex at different age but it is important for the educator to gauge if it is the right time to talk about the same. Moreover incase if there is any questions that comes up which does not have an answer, it is good to take help of a medical practitioner in thzt case.
“Studies show that nearly one third of Australian young people have had sex by Year 10, and two thirds by Year 12”. [ CITATION Sex09 \l 1033 ]. It is important for us to understand the need of adequate sex and health education for the adolescents today and with the above figure in place, lack of proper actions may result in a significant increase of cases related to sexual health issues. It is important for us to take the above mentioned actions and ownership in order to ensure that proper information and guidance is available to the adolescents which will help them to understand their role in maintaining good health and healthy relationships.
Powel, Anastasia. Sex, Power and Consent: Youth Culture and the Unwritten Rules. Cambridge University Press, 2005.
S.A. HEALTH COMMISSION. "POLICY FOR THE HEALTH OF YOUNG PEOPLE." In YOUTH HEALTH POLICY IMPLEMENTATION WORKING GROUP, by S.A. HEALTH COMMISSION. South Australian Health Commission, 1996.
Sexual Health Information (Govt. of SA). "Talking sex with young people." Sexual Health Information, 2009.