The Family Role in Sex Education
Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 19th 2008

A very disturbing statistic was published nationwide in newspapers and on television news channels. Specifically, the Center for Disease(CDC)reported its findings in March of 2008 that one in four teenage girls is infected with a sexually transmitted disease(STD). For all of our sophistication as an advanced and highly educated society, something is going wrong about the way we are educating boys and girls about sexuality.

WebMD Medical News posted a report on its site about the need of parents to take responsibility for educating their children about sex. Unfortunately, parents continue to find this a difficult task with which to cope. WebMD reports that many families select one occasion to discuss sex with their youngsters, never to raise the issue again. However, once is never enough.
Through the many years of my practice men and women have told me the various ways in which sex education was handled during their childhoods. I have heard stories including:

1. Mom and Dad left a book for me to read on the kitchen table and never said a thing.
2. When I was 5 years old mom told me all the entire story of sex but it was never mentioned again.
3. Sex in our house was a taboo subject and everyone knew it must not be discussed.
4. When I asked where babies come from my father told me that parents go to the pharmacy and ask for a blue pill for a boy and a pink pill for a girl and that's how babies are made.
5. When I asked about where babies come from I was sternly told that was a "dirty subject" and must not ask again.

Another variation on this theme was that I was told that I was too young to ask.
Yet, another variation on the subject was that my mom said that I would know and understand when I was an adult. She never told me how I would know and understand and it was never mentioned again.

6. One older woman remembered how, when she developed her menstrual cycle and told her mother, she was slapped across the face. I later learned that this was not so unusual among a certain generation of women.
7. Others discussed how they were told about the sperm and the egg but it was never made clear how a man and a woman cause the sperm and egg to meet and fertilize.
The stories go on with every kind and type of variation. The sum of all the stories were that kids came away confused and mystified about sex, yet, sensed that they had better not bring it up again.

So as not to appear totally skeptical about people, I will admit that some families handled the issue of sex education quite well, answering their children's questions in ways that were age appropriate, ending in full disclosure when they were old enough to fully comprehend.
For too many adults, sex education implies a course in biology, as though sex organs do not exist. They will discuss sperm and egg but nothing else.

I remember my own High School days, during which there was a short unit on reproduction in our Hygiene class. During those times, hygiene classes were part of the gymnasium experience. It is interesting that sex education was part of "hygiene," implying that there was something dirty going on. During the short unit there were posters on the eternal sperm, egg, fertilization, etc. but nothing on sex organs, masturbation, menstrual cycles, preventing pregnancy, proper behavior during sex, etc.

All the findings are that the more parents talk to their teenagers about sex the less risk there is of pregnancy and of STDs. It is important to remember in teaching kids about sex that protecting against STD is just as important as protecting against pregnancy. The fact is that the girls taking birth control pills will protect against pregnancy but not against STD's.
This is a vitally important topic about which people have very strong opinions, often guided by religious and moral teachings as well as their own early experiences. Everyone's participation is welcome on this all important issue.


Done by: Utkarsh Pandey, Siew Qi An Jeremy Finnian, Soh Swee Kai Caleb, Yan Licheng, Chui Wai Chung of 10S22

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