“She was confirmed to be pregnant and subsequently told a police officer that she had engaged in sex with several males” (10th Male Punished For Sex With Girl, 13, Miss Elena Chong).
The report “10th Male Punished For Sex With Girl, 13” (February 2, 2011) by Miss Elena Chong detailing another incident of underage sex is unfortunate and alarming; especially since the victim have had sexual engagements with several individuals previously. However, given the anecdotal increases in sex-related offences and occurrences, there are genuine concerns as to whether more can be done to address these developments and their corresponding detriments. The considerable laissez-faire attitudes towards sex – adopted by the assortment of youths and involved parties – seem to suggest a tangible lack of comprehension over responsibility and consequences. In a more fundamental sense, questions have been rightfully asked of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and its subsidiary sex education programmes adopted by institutions; if they have been effectual in content delivery, and getting relevant messages across.
A good sex education programme can bring about a plethora of tangible benefits for schools and their students. First, students would be able to grasp important concepts, and increase their knowledge of pertinent laws; such as the illegality of underage intercourse. Second, they would become more cognisant of the after-effects of their various actions, and subtly recognise the challenges of parenthood and family planning. A well-executed education plan would also reinforce ideas of abstinence, birth controls and contraception; allowing young individuals to understand the perils of casual sex activities or habits.
The MOE has not done itself much favour in this regard, with the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) saga and the controversy over the new external agencies handling the aforementioned teaching-management heightening suspicions, and casting new doubts. Besides moving forward in the pedantic methodologies and antiquated pedagogies, it is imperative for its administrators to address the proliferated public opinions.
Measures and revised syllabuses cannot be dependent on the educator dispensing perspectives and supposed “facts” on what is morally right or wrong. Students would be speedily put off if their teachers are personally uncomfortable with the issues, or if the teachers feel restricted by the limited “Growing Years” resource package. Respectively, the MOE should work closely with the National Institute of Education (NIE) to enhance training initiatives with more practical trial-and-error sessions so as to institute familiarity and mastery, and simultaneously seek to expand existing plans. These proposals must include active discussions with their students, intriguing engagements with questions and answers facilitated by the teachers who are not shy to interact actively and freely.
Parents must be increasingly involved in the process as well; endeavours should be undertaken to encourage parents to shy away less from these issues, so that can complement the efforts put forward by schools and teachers. If too little is done too late, the consequences would be for all to bear.