Sex Education – how much is enough?

| 20/08/2013

As teenagers begin their journey, with added pressures to growing up, not only do their hormones work over time, but there are many physical changes taking place in the body structure. Developing sex organs make the teenager curious to explore these changes. Added to this, there is often a curiosity to indulge in what is forbidden.

Sexual activity combined with the absence of knowledge to control these impulses brings the sexual arena into constant focus among teens. For these reasons it is of paramount importance that teens have access to sex education at schools in the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately, this information is not freely available to teenagers, who are at the most vulnerable and impressionable age of their lives. Uninformed teenagers are most likely to make poor decisions that will drastically change their lives forever.

Teen pregnancy in the Cayman Islands has historically been shrouded by ignorance on the issue. It is a common belief that “teenage pregnancy only happens to the person with multiple partners” or “not my child”. This is so far from the truth that it is not even funny.

The illusion that Cayman is of Christian heritage and the notion that sexual intercourse is the forbidden fruit that is restricted from teenagers until marriage has added to the censorship of sexual education being taught at our schools on a full time basis. Some parents are unwilling to have an open mind to frank and open discussions needed in educating teenagers, and their unwillingness to engage their teens adds to the frustration the policy makers, educators and counselors are experiencing when they are brought in to clean up this mess – after the fact.

Studies show that informed teenagers will make better decisions if they have knowledge of the relevant facts. So why are parents blocking this process? Is it because they themselves were not exposed to this educational process? Or is it the fear of losing their child? Some parents are sheltering the child and thus avoiding the issues. They argue that this is a better approach than having regular sex education classes taught in schools for fear of creating a rush to have premature sexual encounters. Regrettably, this attitude is causing more harm than good.

In Cayman, the stats shows that most teenage pregnancies stem from single parent homes. A third of the teens who get pregnant have experiencedsome sort of negative sexual experience, either in the form of rape, incest or sexual abuse, and have had problems with the law. Some teens get pregnant to escape an abusive and violent home life. A very small number get pregnant because they want to. The highest numbers of teens that end up getting pregnant is usually due to carelessness, and without the use of condoms.

Teens are going to have sex regardless of the restrictions placed on them. A comprehensive sex education plan has to be implemented at schools that will cover all areas of risk and consequences, including the various types of protection, negotiation skills, awareness of sex offenders, infectious diseases, and financial responsibility.  Details on how to correctly wear a condom is essential. So having these lessons taught in schools with open discussions in class with peers sends a strong message, as everyone will be on the same page, rather than trying to teach this to your child in isolation. Having the added benefit of parental support at home and in the school will better educate teenagers on these issues and better prepare them for the real world.

Teenage pregnancy in Cayman is high when compared to other Caribbean Islands, which confirms the need for more to be done. Teenagers will talk to their peers and unauthorized sources to get the answers to their questions when parents are not approachable, this will increase the chances of risky behaviors. If the schools are not allowed to teach and give them the information, then who will?

Teenagers are vulnerable due to their lack of wisdom and their exposure to all sorts of influences that will cloud their judgment and prevent them making the right decision whenever the occasion presents itself. Teens need to be taught how to negotiate out of compromising propositions and have the skills necessary to make responsible decisions. Recent trends pose fundamental concerns about the health and social development of children born to young women. When teens get pregnant and quit school to support their young family, they do not complete their education. As a result, the teen mother and the society both lose. The child often then repeats this cycle when they become of childbearing age.

The teen culture has changed and we as a society must change in order to address this growing problem.  Finding appropriate responses to these problems has been made all the more complex by the social revolution brought by rapid modernization. People in Cayman are more prosperous than some other Caribbean Islands but attitudes toward sex, motherhood and public policy are still influenced by yesterday’s traditional norms.

Teens are bullied by other teens, and when a teen is accused of being a virgin they might resolve to have premature sex to fit in. The gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ puts financial pressure on teens to accept gifts, which can lead to manipulation and sexual favors.  The teen that is ‘hot’ and the teen that is not often leads to promiscuous behaviour. Who can afford a blackberry and who cannot? These might seem like simple gripes by adult standards but to teenagers these are major issues and if not taken seriously will add to them developing low self-esteem that can accelerate the rate of risky behaviors. A teen that is experiencing these issues might also turn to drugs and alcohol, which have the effect of lowering a person’s ability to say no, thereby creating another set of problems for the teen and society.

There is no limit to the amount of sexually education needed for teenagers. They are doing it and society has to talk about it. Today’s teen culture and the pressures they face are the driving factors to stop the ignorance and give this issue the attention it rightly deserves.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    there's a school in the US that is starting to teach sex education in kindergarten… it is a little more relevant than you think. teaching kids not to sit on the laps of grown ups if they feel uncomfortable, even ifit's their father or uncle, who and how kids should be bathed, what are strange things for adults to say and how to go about reporting an adult who makes them feel uncomfortable.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The title asks a question.  The answer is simple.  You can never get enough.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am wondering if this program is the one where you get a baby doll? You have to  take care of it like a real baby feed it change its diaper ,it even crys when it needs changing or food. I believe if they experience that plus some monopoly money they will not want to have babies so young.

    • Anonymous says:

      By this and many of the other replys it is easy to see that Caymans education system is seriously not up to the task of educating the ignorance that is taught at home. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    I believe comprehensive sex education in schools is a neccessity and agree with the viewpoint. As part of this education it would also serve a useful purpose to have teenage students spend a few days in a day care centre. Then they can witness some of the realities of child-rearing. This would perhaps give them a less fanciful idea of what is involved.

  5. M for Anonymous says:

    Weel said. Great article.

  6. Ghann G. Bhahng says:

    One thing is for certain, "just say no" and "give yourself to Christ" combined with "Christ says you can't have sex until a priest says it's OK" just ain't working.  I can't imagine why anyone ever thought it would.  Give people the information they need to make informed decisions, and have some faith that they'll make good ones.  No decision has a greater risk of being a bad decision than one made in ignorance.  Further, it's morally indefensible to actively impose that ignorance on people at a time when you know they are being biologically forced to make decisions about that matter.  Educators hang your heads in shame.  Panderers of religion hang yours doubly so.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why stop there…teens should be getting health classes to help them navigate the world of adult decision making so that they are equipped to exercise their free will. They’ll do it with or without consent. This includes gangs/violence, dangerous driving, sex, drugs, alcohol, and impairment education from early high school. The headlines tell us that our teens are not equipped to make good choices in many departments, not the least of which sexual awareness.

  8. Apprentice101 says:

    Teenage pregnacies, abstemiousness, marriage and extra marital affairs, sexually transmitted deseases, et cetera… I believe these things should be taught in the classroom. I have no problems with educating our youth about these things. I think just one thing concerns me though, and that is "who" is the teacher. I prefer someone who is conservative, rational, and yet not religiously brainwashing our youth; or some homosexual or liberal person promoting their lifestyle. Who is the teacher concerns me.


    • Anonymous says:

      If you and your spouse did your job, there would be no need for a teacher to address this.

      • Anonymous says:

        The fact that a couple knows enough about sex to have children does not make them necessarily knowledgeable enough to give proper sex education to their kids.  That  is one reason that it should be taught in the schools by trained qualified instructors. We want our youth making decision based on facts. 

        Good decisions come from good facts.  Bad decisions come from misinformation.

        • Anonymous says:

          Fair enough, but this still does not make it the teacher's responsibility.  If the parents are uninformed, uneducated, etc. as it relates to sex education it is their responsibility to educate themselves about this topic and pass on this knowledge to their children. 

          • Anne T. Krist says:

            Like that's going to happen.  Ignorance breeds ignorance, literally.

            • Anonymous says:

              I didn't say it was going to happen.  All I said it's not the teacher's responsibility – and if the parents are uninformed, they ought to get with the program, get informed, and in turn pass on this knowledge to their children.

    • M for Anonymous says:

      "or some Homosexual or liberal person" – really? My dear, no one promotes his or her sexual lifestyle more than heterosexuals or homophobes. Shame on you for stating much narrow minded nonsense.

      What consenting adults do in the bedroom is none of our business.

      I pray that the educational material cover different sexual orientations, so that our young people can understand and form their own educated opinions about this, without such hate talk scaring them onto the wrong path. Either be it straight or otherwise. Everyone should be empowering young people, not bringing them down or in some sad cases helping them jump off the edge.


      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah but ..children are not CONSENTING ADULTS. I wouldn't want to know that my child is being taught how to be a homosexual by his teacher!

        • M for Anonymous says:

          No one is `taught` to be homosexual. You either are or aren´t. 

          You´re tottally missing the point in my previous comment. Please educate yourself on the matter. and read my previous comment….. slowly.

          • Anonymous says:

            Of course you can be. Children molested by homosexuals often turn that way. Men who go to prison one way sometimes come out the next.   

            • Anonymous says:

              To say these comments are ludicrous is an understatement… I've never heard such bologna in all my life, "children molested by homosexuals often turn that way" , "some folk become by choice" what a friggin joke. I ask you, when did you choose your sexual orientation?? actually dont answer, just go crawl back under that rock you came out of. 

            • Anonymous says:

              Your ignorance is epic.

          • Anonymous says:

            Some folk become by choice and expect other folk to do likewise, which I think is wrong!

    • Anonymous says:

      ugh, what an ignorant statement…. hopefully you are not a parent that is teaching your own children this kind of mentality.  

  9. Dennis Smith says:

    I grew up in a culture that expected you to get married before having sex.

    When I was 16 (in 1964) I attended the 1st tourism training school in Edmonton, Alberta and as part of the program we were seriously educated about sexually transmitted disease with very graphic films. I moved to the Cayman Islands 3 years later, still a virgin.

    The point is that sex education didn't stimulate me, quite the opposite; it scared the hell out of me. I also had a father who thoroughly explained the facts of life to me at 13. He said that he didn't want me learning the wrong things in a poolroom. Apparently learning to play pool well was also a sign of a misspent youth among other things.

    Ironically in the Caribbean, where sex is much more open and available there is very little serious sex education. Is there a relationship?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Well said, agree completely!

    I might only add that avenues for sexual education also be found to reach those past school age too, as it seems that educating those of us past our teen years will benefit the goals of open and frank discussions / education of safer and healthier sex knowledgege.

    In summary; people (including teens) have been having sex forever…and will no doubt continue to do so…and every human being deserves full knowledge!

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe sex education is 100% needed and can't believe that in this day and age, this is not already part of the curriculum.

      That said, I personally do not believe that the majority of teen pregnancies in Cayman are due to Teens not being aware. In my observation, a lot of the girls nowadays seem to suffer low self esteem and believe that their only fulfillment in life comes from a man and are therefore stupid enough to impress a guy by having unprotected sex with them, or worse get intentionally pregnant to hook the guy.

      When I was in my teens, I was told very clearly by my parents that if I come home pregnant, I am out on my own raising a child – they were not going to do that for me. That was 25 years ago when any sex talk was much more hush hush and the choices of contraception very limited. I knew that my parents were serious and took precaution accordingly.

      What I see here way to often – children and teens are coddled and parents run to bail them out every step of the way, and grandparents end up raising their grandchildren.


  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow. Very good points!