ST letter: What the school programme teaches students
ST Letter by Ms Deeksha Vasundhra, AWARE CSE Development Team (2006-07)
29 April 2009
I REFER to reactions to Aware’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme. The CSE was developed when data released in 2005 showed a sharp rise in sexually transmitted infections (STI) among teenage girls. Between 2000 and 2005, this figure grew 3.4 times. We were concerned because some STIs can cause sterility.
A study by the National University Hospital found that 117 girls under 20 years of age had abortions, and of these, nine had previous abortions. Nearly 30 per cent of women above age 20 had previous abortions.
Clearly, accurate information about safer sex and contraception is severely lacking for teens and adults. Aware’s CSE programme set out to help close the information gap.
Other studies have shown a higher rate of depression and suicide among young people who are homosexual, especially those unsure about their sexuality. A study last year found that, compared to those who were not rejected by their families, homosexuals who faced family rejection as teenagers were:
- eight times more likely to report having attempted suicide;
- almost six times more likely to report high levels of depression;
- and, most worryingly, three times likelier to report having engaged in unprotected sex.
Most parents would rightly be concerned if their children are taught that homosexuality is acceptable. But parents have told us that they would be even more concerned if their children were agonising about their sexuality, were severely depressed or were being bullied because they were different.
Aware’s CSE approaches all the issues from a health perspective. Our approach is to provide students with up-to-date information so they can make sensible decisions that will help them stay healthy – physically, emotionally and psychologically. In a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, we believe that parents are the best people to teach their children about moral and cultural values. The CSE trainers encourage students to speak with parents and religious leaders if they have further questions.
Less than five minutes is spent on the statements on homosexuality. The rest of the three-hour session involves games and role-play scenarios, including extensive discussion and role-play on the consequences of sex, and how to say no.
The CSE programme takes a lifelong approach to sex and aims to equip young people for adulthood and marriage as there are even fewer chances for sex education after they leave school.
For more information about the content of Aware’s CSE, please log on to www.we-are-aware.sg/cse
Deeksha Vasundhra (Ms)
Aware CSE Development Team (2006-07)