Sex education is a major contributing factor toward a stable society. Regardless, sex, sexuality and anything related to them is a huge taboo in India. The year 2007 witnessed a huge controversy over sex education for adolescents in India1. The Ministry of Human Resource Development took initiative to include it in the educational curriculum. The initiative faced widespread protests. Several states including Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan to name a few, banned sex education. The present study was conducted to assess the extent of quality of Sex education pursued by an individual and Institutional Level. The questionnaire includes general and specific questions related to Sex Education persuaded by an individual on an Institutional level in India. The total number of respondents was 117, out of which 46 are male and 71 are female.
KEYWORDS: sex education; taboo; youth; educators; counselors; populations; human sexuality.
Sex education essentially focuses on the physical, psychological, emotional, social and relational components of human relationships. There has always been a stigma attached to this subject in Indian society irrespective of the culture or religion one belongs to. In the present time we’ve seen increasing interest among teens and adolescents to break this stigma and gain knowledge about such sensitive topics. Unfortunately, it’s been observed that due to curiosity in their minds they prefer unethical ways to gain this knowledge which leads to incredibility in the process of learning about Family Life education. Hence, adolescent carries a bag of anxiety, confusion and apprehensions when it comes to sex education. These doubts can be scientifically cleared only by educational curriculum and parental guidance at the right time and age. Sex Education can definitely help students to develop positive perspectives and attitudes toward sex education. As much as introducing FLE in the curriculum has always been a need of an hour, an outreach was still experienced after the introduction of a new adolescent education program stressing on adolescent reproductive health by NACO and HRD Ministry, in 2007 leading to the banning of the sex education program. School administrators were threatened with dire consequences for corrupting their tender minds. Even after several protests and moral policing, stating that the program is unfit for students, AEP was adopted by a few public as well as private schools but they lacked in implementation of the same. No doubt the program covers a broad range of sensitive issues such as body image, violence and abuse, gender and sexuality, STIs, etc, one of the highly prioritized issues is the importance of consent and negotiation in intimate relationships, in today’s India missed out by the concerned authorities. Such negligence on the Institutional as well as on the parental level is one of the reasons for the increasing statistics of rape cases in India. However, with the reference to Indian context parents are now open to communicating with their child about FLE but due to lack of guidelines on age-appropriate content that needs to be conveyed to the child they fail to enact their role in the child’s development.
According to Ms. Niharika Tripathi1 in her research paper stated that “Sex education/family life education (FLE) has been one of the highly controversial issues in Indian society. Due to increasing incidences of HIV/AIDS, RTIs/STIs, and teenage pregnancies, there is a rising need to impart sex education.” But it was observed that Indian society represents a mixture of responses when it came to Family Life Education. For the same purpose, the researcher made an attempt to understand the expectations and experiences of youth regarding family life education in India by analyzing the data from the District Level Household and Facility Survey (DLHS-3: 2007–08) and Youth Study in India (2006–07). Where in researcher found a substantial breach among youth who perceived sex education to be important and the ones who actually received it, disclosed a considerable unmet need for Family Sex Education. The researcher also stated that youth who received FLE were relatively more aware about reproductive health issues than their counterparts. ‘Majority among Indian youth, irrespective of their age and sex, favoured introduction of FLE at school level, preferably from standard 8th onwards.’
Ms. Omale Ameh2 in his research paper titled, ‘A SURVEY OF THE PERCEPTION OF STUDENTS ON THE STUDY OF SEX EDUCATION IN SECONDARY SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES IN DEKINA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF KOGI STATE’ conducted a study on Junior Secondary School Social Studies Student perception on the study of sex education in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State. It was descriptive data-based research. The researcher did study of 497 students wherein the sample was selected from the students of 35 public and 6 registered private Junior Secondary Schools in Dekina LGA. Based on the collected data and analyzed with the help of sampled mean, standard deviation and percentage, the study concluded that the students have positive perceptions and attitudes towards sex education and that the best person that they can discuss sex-related issues with is their teacher.
Randhir Kumar3, According to the researcher and the other authors who published a paper titled, ‘Knowledge Attitude and Perception of Sex Education among School Going Adolescents in Ambala District, Haryana, India: A Cross-Sectional Study’ studied the knowledge and attitude of imparting sex education in school going adolescents in rural and urban area of Ambala district. Where in the team of researchers surveyed 743 adolescents of the age group 13-19 year old with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire. The study found that “93.5% favor sex education. 86.3% said sex education can prevent the occurrence of AIDS and 91.5% of adolescents prefer doctors should give them sex education followed by 83.0% school/teacher and the least preference was parents 37.3%.” research was concluded with a substantial breach in the knowledge about reproductivity and sexual health. It was observed with the need of Sex Life Education to be introduced in the school curriculum.
According to Dr. Amit Khanna and Dr. Prerna Khanna4 in their research article Adolescents sex Education: Indian scenario claimed that Major resistance towards sex education were unawareness and social groups who are associated with open discussion on sex education. Once this reluctance will eradicate it will help to bring changes in different domains of society.
Ms. Vineeta Thomas, and Dr. Bino Thomas5 in their research paper titled, ‘ Strategies Adopted by Parents to Impart Sex Education to their Adolescents’ studied the sample which was collected from 50 parents, 11 fathers and 39 mothers who participated in the study for the investigation of strategies adopted by parents to impart sex education to their adolescents. In this study, the researcher concluded that there is a stereotyped attitude among parents as well as teachers toward sex education. The study stated the urgency of guidelines for Sex Life Education introduction in coordinated efforts by parents and teachers together to overcome many of the social problems. There is a need to develop a strong rapport among students, teachers as well parents. There is a need to conduct workshops by the educational institutions for teachers and parents which can ultimately ensure the Sex Life Education impartment in the right time and in the right manner.
Objectives of the study:
- To study the perception regarding Family Life Education (FLE) among adolescents and youth.
- To examine the experiences of youth who received family life education.
- To understand the loopholes in sex education in the educational curricula.
The hypothesis of the Study:
- H0: There is no negligence and awkwardness to speak about the topic openly.
- H1: There is negligence and awkwardness to speak about the topic openly.
- H0: There is more awareness about sex education among youths.
- H1: There is a lack of awareness about sex education among youths.
- H0: there is a progressive involvement of family in Sex Life Education
- H1: There is negligible involvement of family or parents in Sex Life Education
Keeping the nature of the problem in the mind Descriptive Survey method has been used to collect the data.
Sources of data:
Primary Data: To appraise the need of Sex Education in Youth and adolescents of India, data was collected from all age groups majorly focusing on the adolescent and middle age groups. To select the respondents stratified random sampling technique was used. The questionnaire included general and specific questions related to an individual’s experience with Family Life/ Sex education course introduced to them by their institutional curriculum.
Secondary Data: For gathering secondary data all pre-published related materials were considered.
The total number of responses are 125, out of which 16.1% belonged to the adolescent age group and the majority represented with the age group of 19 – 24 years of age which is 71.8%. Primary and secondary data were analyzed by using suitable statistical methods like frequency count, and percentage count, for finding an individual’s experience with Family Life/ Sex education course introduced to them by their institutional curriculum. The sample size represents Mumbai Suburban as a universe.
To appraise the accuracy of findings of teaching quality of Sex Education, the parameters have been combined, to find out the overall need of Sex Education.
From figure 1 it is noted that the majority of the respondents were aware of Family life education belonging to the Adolescents age group itself despite of the fact that the sample size represents 71.08% of the respondents belonging to 19-24 age. This states more awareness level on sex education among adolescents group as compared to other age groups.
The study also analyses that majority of the respondents were aware of Family Life Education or sex life education in their curriculum of Highschool studies.
As per Figure 2, when respondents were surveyed, it was observed that still majority of the respondents despite of age group did not have an interaction with their parents on Family life education, which is a need of an hour. This further concludes that still there is a reluctance from parents on counseling their kids on FLE as an integral part of social development.
The majority of the respondents took their learning on FLE outside school from the internet representing 38%, followed by from friends 34% this results in respondents being more comfort zone to explore the learnings were found external than their parents or family. This is a symbol and representation on respondents’ hesitation towards family on openness or lack of confidence to discuss FLE.
Here study shows there is an enormous need on teaching FLE to the youth in the right age along with bias-free surroundings with parents too….
Even after adopting FLE in Institutional Curriculum, as per the primary survey, 37.6% and 18.8% of participants seek to gain more knowledge through surfing on social media and the internet. With its availability, usability, and privacy, the internet offers teens a tool for obtaining critical health information they may not otherwise have access to in schools or from adults in their lives. In fact, only 12% of participants were able to gain knowledge related to this FLE through their parents leading to 28% of total participants talking about Sex Education with their friends according to Figure 6.
Table 1: Describes Societal perception about including FLE in Institutional Curriculum.
Sr. No. Close-ended Questions No. of Participants
- Before a student can be enrolled in a sex education class, must his/her parents give permission? 69 56
- Generally speaking, has your local community reacted in a favorable manner toward your sex education program? 40 85
- Do you think that the sex education program has been a success in your school district? 59 66
- Do you feel that more research studies on sex education need to be conducted? 121 4
According to the above table, 69 respondents agree with getting prior permission from parents in order to enroll a child in FLE program. Out of 125 respondents, 68% respondents did not receive favorable support from their communities. 66 respondents believe that Sex Education program introduced by their respective institutions was not successful enough. Hence, 96.8% of respondents feel that more research studies on Sex Education is a need of an hour.
The deep-rooted shame, taboo, and prohibition that are associated with sex are deterrents to sex education. Yet, this perception has other consequences too. This regressive outlook is responsible for rape crimes. Sex education is the instruction on issues relating to human sexuality, including emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control, and sexual abstinence. It is important to understand that sex is something that our bodies are genetically engineered to perform. In the same manner, we are designed to eat and sleep. To successfully establish an institutionalized system of sex education in India, a change in the general outlook of people is necessary: understanding, acceptance, and willingness. It is better for a more formalized and strategic approach to be taken to good sex education in India, with educational institutes, parents, health workers, and communities all participating and doing their part. Otherwise, the dangers of sex education being learned from unrealistic sources such as pornography on the internet can only lead to misinformation, which will then take even longer to correct in the long run. India needs to take a responsible step in ensuring children and youth are well informed about this important part of life such that is respected, trusted, and above all, not abused by biased and patriarchal viewpoints.
- Are youth in India ready for sex education? Emerging evidence from national surveys Niharika Tripathi, T V Sekher https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0071584#references
- Ms. Omale Ameh, A survey of the perception of students on the study of sex education in secondary school social studies in Dekina local government area of Kogi state. https://www.eajournals.org/wp-content/uploads/A-Survey-of-the-Perception-of-Students-on-the-Study-of-Sex-Education-in-Secondary-School-Social-Studies-in-Dekina-Local-Government-Area-of-Kogi-State1.pdf
- Randhir Kumar, Knowledge Attitude and Perception of Sex Education among School Going Adolescents in Ambala District, Haryana, India: A Cross-Sectional Study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427339/#__sec12title
- Adolescent Sex Education