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As porn increases, so does the need for sex education

Werner CohillWERNER COHILL

SOME YEARS BACK there was an advertisement on EMTV about awareness of condoms.  A doctor appeared during commercial breaks and spoke explicitly about safe sex through their use.

While watching the popular CHM Making Music program each Thursday evening, or during the Friday night football, commercial breaks were switched off by many people to avoid viewing this advertisement.

Quite recently, it was reported in one of daily newspaper that a student from a named primary school in the nation’s capital was suspended from classes. He was caught by his teacher watching porn during class time on his mobile phone.

These two cases exemplify how important sex education is for our young people.  It is imperative that they receive such education. in the long run, its absence is not good for their health and physical well-being.

There was huge public resentment towards the condom ad.  Concerned people were in total disagreement as they thought it was morally and religiously wrong for it to be viewed by children.

The newspapers and the local radio stations became the venting forums for people to express their frustration, make known their views and opine on the effects this advertisement would have on the young people. 

Fortunately the doctor was not harmed but the gossiping world disliked him.

He later proved critics wrong by representing PNG in international engagements, notably in Timor Leste and becoming PNG’s top health administrator. I admire him to this day.

As for the latter ,there were no public commentaries on the general conduct of young people accessing pornography.

The debate on whether it is worth having sex education in primary schools has never been had at length.  Obviously the age factor has limited advocacy.

My argument is not to teach students about sex alone, but rather broaden their mindsets about the dangers, what they need to know, and how to deal with issues.

When the topic of sex education pops up in discussion on the streets, at school and among peers, the obvious topic is about sexual pleasures or encounters.

But there is more to the topic than this shallow and immature understanding.  The definition of sex education refers to teaching about the different sexes, the relationships between opposite sexes, the importance of sex, the reproductive system and related issues and challenges. 

According to Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the UN Population Fund, sex education is like teaching people how to drive by telling them in detail what is under the bonnet, how the bits work, how to maintain them safely to avoid accidents, what the controls do and when to go on the road.  It is all about the mechanics.

Sex education is part of young people’s educational upbringing in many western countries, including Australia.  This was evident during Insight on SBS Television’ recently, where an audience of mostly teenagers were asked about how influential pornography was and is in their lives. 

Some of them admitted watching porn as early as eleven years old.  They claimed to have received more information from such stuff than being taught by their parents or at school.

Having been brought up in societies where traditional beliefs and value systems have a strong influence on growth and development, sex and its entire doings are a tabu for us, especially the young ones. 

Coupled with this are strong religious beliefs and church practices.  These are the principle challenges, forbidding parents from providing a profound understanding about sex to the young ones.

As the world is changing, people’s behaviour and conception of sex is changing.  A wave of pornography is hitting our shores and pushing the social and biblical walls of relationships and marriages, the essence of love and respect, wide open. 

Pornography is readily available in this country; five years ago it was restricted to those who ventured abroad.

Also the social mores and behaviour cycles of young people have greatly changed.  The spread of pandemic diseases, like HIV/AIDS, and issues like prostitution, human smuggling and drug trafficking top the list of social concerns about young people.  The young become victims of the ever growing gap between the developed and the developing world.

This raises serious issues about the lack of sex education in primary schools.  The absence is negligent of the outcomes for young people: unwanted pregnancies; prostitution; incest; under-age sex are.

There is an important issue of internet accessibility and the dissemination of sex information.  Having access to the internet has shifted from cafes to the palms of our hands.  The mobile phone has made surfing more convenient and it takes less time.  You have access to it wherever you are.

With little or no control over which sites are restricted and which are not, young people find themselves having access to everything.  Males access sites about females and females do the opposite. 

The sites most frequently visited are porn sites and the lust for this becomes a secret mission for young people.

The children of this generation are more open-minded about both material and non-material stuff.  Let me put it this way, the ability of a 13-year old to grasp ideas is much different from someone of that age 10 years ago.

Non-material stuff like romance and love, relationships and marriage, and sex may seem less important to us as adults, but they are priority agendas for young people. 

The young of this generation take for granted relationships, marriages and sex.  However, they lack the basic information about the essentials and core of this stuff.

Sadly for them, the consequences are often unknown, especially young girls who do not seem to foresee their future after pregnancy.

The argument about the incompatibility of sex education with primary schooling should be a thing of the past.  Sex education should be understood as an important part of a child’s growth and development.

Government needs to make available comprehensive sex education as well as confidential sexual and reproductive health services that will help young people to make responsible choices regarding their sexuality.

Werner Cohill (31) was born at Alexishafen in Madang province.  He is a parliamentary officer attached to the committee secretariat section of the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea

Comments

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Veronica Hannette

Too much or technology.
It seems that we are trying to catch up with technology and use social networks to search for such materials. I thinks currently were are way too well to understand "sex,condoms and HIVAIDS" by now.
Gosh! This new generation now a days seem to have a lot of ideas about internet and scandals......
It is so sickening to read about a primary school student like that having to possess such pornographic materials.....

Maranatha Kila

The article is a spot on discussion and is a serious matter to look at. The topic is relevant because it is time we come to the real truth.

Sex education in schools especially in regard to the use of condoms is wise because it is a good starting point of prevention,as children will grow up with positive attitudes.

However, as human beings, we understand that making condoms available in schools is like we are giving children and teachers the licence to have more sex which results in a lot of unexpected pregnancies and expelling of students.

Because PNG has strong cultural practises,the topic on sex publicly is disgusting and not appropriate.

I believe it is time we disregard our taboos on the topic on sex because if not then diseases such as HIV/AIDS will have no mercy for anyone.

Thank you for exposing this serious matter so we can discuss to help minimse pornography in our Christian country.

Bernard Yegiora

Werner - I can on my Motorola mobile phone type 'sex' in the Google browser and in seconds I have a list of porn sites to choose from.

A powerful change is happening as we speak, you are spot on no doubt.

So how can we address this problem is the real issue that we should discuss. Address is a better word then solution.

Any constructive ideas to kick start the discussion?

Peter Kranz

On a related matter, there are some archaic laws still on the PNG statute books which need urgent reform.

These make homosexuality and adultery illegal (if enforced I reckon this would put most of the Haus Tambaran behind bars); and another which makes abortions illegal.

From Radio New Zealand International -
_______________

PNG medical profession urged to lobby government for abortion law change

A Papua New Guinea doctor says it’s up to the medical profession to turn politicians’ attention to centuries-old British abortion law.

Edith Digwaleu-Kariko made the comment during the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development’s annual meeting in Wellington.

The focus this year is on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Pacific adolescents and a high rate of teen pregnancies across the region coupled with a lack of access to safe abortions was a prominent theme of discussion.

Dr Digwaleu-Kariko says although abortion is illegal it is practised widely at clinics and hospitals.

“There are ways to cover it up, that’s why we call it underground. Although it’s happening, we as medical professionals, the ultimatum is to save lives so that’s what we work in the name of but then we are also sensitive to the legalities that surround the issue so then we also try to protect ourselves.”

Edith Digwaleu-Kariko says no one has been penalised for performing an abortion but physicians want legal protection.

Peter R Jokisie

I would love to see the education curriculum of PNG being rejuvenated.

It would be vital and significant to impart two new disciplines, Ethics & Etiquette and Sex Education.

Leonard Roka

Thanks for this exposer, brother.

This serious problem is growing and spreading like bush inferno across this anti-porn christian country of ours.

I am on eve of writing on the issue regarding Bougainvillean cultural values against some 'Bougainvillean porn stars' soon.

Good expository writing.

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