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Problems With Sexual Education Children And Young People Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 5397 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The present study pretends to diagnose if there are problems with sexual education in a public school in Nicaragua (Masatepe, Masaya). The purpose is to facilitate reflections and contribute with new ideas that make the development of new personal and social abilities, prevent teenage pregnancies, and STD's.

This problem arises from the results that there are many young people who lack good knowledge about sexual health, do not feel empowered enough to ask for contraception or have not learned the skills to negotiate contraceptive use with their partners to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections. In the last years, due to the media, kids and teenagers have more access to sexual material, and the orientation of the parents in this type of material is scarce or void. The sexual abuse in children according to the police records has increased since 1984 from being 4.9% to 22.4% in 1991. At the end of 2011, the Ministry of Health in Nicaragua (MINSA) [1] recorded 34.501 mothers under 20 years old gave birth. Nicaragua has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates between 12 and 19 years old. Of 100 pregnancies, 25 are adolescents; reveal the results of the Survey Nicaraguan Demographic and Health, ENDESA (Survey Final Report Nicaraguan Demographic and Health) [2] 1998-2006.

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The government is responding to these events with programs given to teachers. This is why this study arises, to know if they are actually put into practice and if students are learning, because the school in Masatepe has one program in hands, and was given to teachers. My research will assess surveys given to students of the school, from 9th to 11th grade (50 students from each year), to know what their interests are, and what their knowledge about the topic is, an interview to the teachers who have the program in hands, and to the principal of the school present my results. With all these in hand, I will propose suggestions for the improvements in the class of sexuality if any problems are present, the solutions will come through the surveys, and make the director conscious of what is going on in her classrooms.

Sexual Education

The code for children and teenagers [3] of Nicaragua, article 44, states "young people of our country have the right to an integral, objective, guiding, scientific, gradual and formative sexual education, which develops their self esteem and respect to their own body and sexual responsibility".

Sexual Education proposes to provide the knowledge, criteria and guidelines that allow the exercise of human rights, the adequate performance in our personal lives, encourage a profound change in civic values, moral attitudes, and active competitions which stimulate the personal development and social integration of pre-teenagers and teenagers, and consequently prevent the transmission of HIV, undesirable pregnancies, and sexual violence. In general it must break all the bonds between stereotypes and myths about sexuality.

Teenagers have the right to have a healthy and responsible sexual education. This promotes the respect that must be given to our reproductive rights, responsible maternity with no risks, and the prevention of any venereal disease. Young kids need it to be capable of comprehending the changes that go on with their bodies, and moods. It will show them the proper way to communicate, relate, and respect other people, and most importantly themselves. In this way they will have better tools to take important decisions that will help them live their sexuality properly, protect themselves from situations that could affect their healthy, mental and physical state.

Sexual Education must be clear, objective, directed to all audiences in order to protect and conserve all cultural and social values, and open to the community of all students and teenagers who have not been taught sexual education. This must be done to prevent many diseases, conflicts in society, doubts of our body, unwanted pregnancies, not wanted marriages, and abortions. If a region is experiencing a net population growth or if it is already exceeding carrying capacity, it is important for sex education, family planning, and self-esteem programs to be concentrated on young women in their teen years. Hence, scientific evidence proves that sexual education that includes information about different methods of prevention makes teenagers clear in when they want to start being sexually active. A teenager who is this state is not conscious about the consequences of being sexually active at young age.

The Population Fund United Nations managed to keep the partnership in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, and with that is was managed to finish the Manual Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Teachers, "which now drove an entire operational training, and it is said that there are 1,500 trained already, "said Freddy Cardenas, Executive Director of "ProFamilia". [4] 

Nicaragua and Other Countries

In Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the United States, the most common reason for not using contraception is a lack of preparedness for sexual activity. "Each year, 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth. 50,000 of them die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. And 95 percent of those births occur in developing countries."- UNITED NATIONS, Jul 18 2012 (Interpress Service)

As a developing, Nicaragua is expected to have high teenage pregnancy rates, low access to good quality education, and to contraception, and this is what actually happening if we do not anything for education. The progress of a country is seen in the level of education and how has it been provided to the population. Nicaragua is part of the International Convention about kid's rights of the United Nations [5] ; this means it must make sure that kids and teenagers have an education which prepares them to assume a responsible life in society. However, not all the population has access to a good quality education and this is due to a large amount of reasons or social problems our country experiences in everyday life.

However, Nicaragua as a non-developed country is expected to have high teenage pregnancy rates, but how is the United States, as a developed country that it is, is dealing with the same problem? In the United States, the percentage of sexually active teenagers who do not use condoms rose from 38% in 2009 to 53%. There are 47% of high school students that say they are sexually active, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of their country. The funding for A Positive Approach to Teen Health, or PATH [6] , has changed the curriculum that teaches sex education, and has shifted from abstinence-centered information to teen pregnancy prevention. They received funding, because they were evidence-based to reduce teen pregnancy. The program includes school presentations, after school mentoring and parent programs, and community-wide events that encourage teens to make healthy choices, respective to sex, and relationship violence. Their goal is "for teens to have stronger more meaningful relationships, healthy futures, and successful ventures throughout their entire lives." Another organization called CATCH [7] is now encouraging pills and the use of condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancies as an attempt to produce a change about the 7,000 girls 17 years or under that are getting pregnant (90% are unplanned pregnancies). Moreover, the programs they have on television which involved teenagers having babies, has opened eyes to the population, especially teenagers, to how complicated it is to give birth at a young age without any preparation, and how difficult it is to get prepared for a future with a child in hand and her or his education in your hands too.

In the other hand, the Netherlands has far fewer teen pregnancies, births and abortions than the U.S and it is a developed country as well, how is this possible? Sexually active Dutch teens are far more likely to use condoms or oral contraceptives than American teens according to statistics [8] . In the Netherlands, sex education is delivered in the context of learning about relationships not biology. Dutch parents talk openly with their children about "waiting until ready" to have sex; healthy relationships; and responsible behavior, such as contraception use, when sexual activity begins. They learned to "normalize" sexual development with their children, and look at sexuality as a normal part of being human. Adults and children are better educated, and it would be unthinkable for a Dutch parent to withdraw their child from sex education. They think "There is no point in telling children just to say 'no' - this is a liberal country: you need to tell them why they are saying 'no' and when to say 'yes'"- Siebe Heutzepeter [9] . What is significantly different in Europe is a strong cultural message against teen pregnancy [10] .

Nicaragua should take the Dutch and Americans as an example, parents should talk openly about this topic and stop considering it as taboo and this is a problem that is going in the school: "I do not see any motivation from the parents to the students, because they say that this type of topic is a taboo, and they should not be talking about it at home."- said the teacher I interviewed. She wants to relate with them and make them involve in the school with respect to their children, but the parents do not make the effort back. Besides, campaigns are also being launched here in Nicaragua, such as "Ganale a las Ganas" (Win your Desires) which consists of talking to teenagers about the risks of having sexual intercourse at a young age.

Role of Government

Reach toward the end of 2015, in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, a 75% reduction in the number of schools that do not provide comprehensive education about sexuality, and a 50 % reduction in the number of adolescents and young people who lack access to contraceptives and sexual health services, the goals were assumed by the ministries of Health, also called MINSA, with a declaration signed called "Prevention with Education". In the agreement, signed during the International Aids Conference, held in Mexico, the governments of the regions committed to develop targeted strategies in adolescents and young people to strengthen efforts in prevention of HIV and pregnancy. However, since the last 4 years (since 2011) there has only been a progress of 48%.

The International Conference About the Population and Development [11] , taken in Cairo in 1994, states "countries around the world must give answers adequate to the necessities about sexual education and reproduction young people have, taken into consideration from a perspective that we have sexual and reproductive rights, and not only from the perspective that we could take the risk of contracting a disease." Delegates at the conference reached consensus on the following qualitative and quantitative purposes:

Universal Education: Ensure primary education for all by 2015 and attempt to remove the difference between enrollment rates of boys and girls in primary and secondary education

Reduction of infant mortality rate and children under 5: Reduce to less than 35 per 1000 live births and infant mortality rate below 45 per 1,000 mortality rate of children under 5 years before 2015.

Reduction of maternal mortality: Reduce maternal mortality by half by 1990 to 2000, and again by half before 2015.

Access to reproductive services and sexual health, including family planning: Allow 2015 universal access to reproductive health services, including family planning and sexual health.

According to the Ministry of education (MINED in Nicaragua), sexual education will have a wide perspective based on human rights and on the respect towards the values of a democratic society where families and communities are developed accordingly. The curriculum will include ethical, biological, emotional, social, cultural, and gender aspects, themes related to gender diversities in orientation and identity, developing tolerance, rejecting any type of discrimination, and promote non ignorant decisions in relation to a person's sexual life.


According to the Ministry of Health, "MINSA" in Nicaragua, in 2011 Nicaragua closed with 34,501births which came from teenagers, between the ages of 15 and 19 years old; this corresponds to the 25% at national level.

The roles of government, all the programs they have launched, are promoters to a good quality of sexual education, and they do not only use contraception methods, but encourage the student being educated to not having a sexually active life because these books provide information that can be extremely important for the future of the teenagers of our country. These programs promotes values and considerations everyone should implement in their lives in order to diminish sexual abuse, which is an occurring problem, or teenage pregnancy which is incrementing everyday due to the non efficient sexual education it being implemented at schools, because if this would be happening, the teenage pregnancy rate should lower. This is where I question this programs, how come, if they are as good as they look, they are not being put into action in the schools or communities more concurringly, because the book I will be presenting next it is not being presented entirely at the school I was surveying, but only being taught partial information of it, and given to only two teachers of this school.

"Sexual Education: Basic Reference Guide for teachers"

It is a program the Ministry of Education is imposing in the school Calixto Moya, it includes the elaboration of a collection of guides with themes of interest for the development and formation of the personal and professional aspects of the staff in a school or even to the parents in a family. Of course, the purpose of all this is to aid the preparation of professionals or staff in schools, so they could give ideas, orientations adequate for the development of a person's personality during childhood and adolescence.

Ways to provide education of sexuality

General Considerations

It is necessary to reorient the programs for children, adolescents and rural and urban youth, by identifying the positive aspects that are necessary and the negatives that need to be changed.

Sex-Ed must be creative, open to analysis and reflection, with the main purpose of maintaining the motivation of the one's being educated, making them participate in a program in an interactive manner. You can include recreational activities and classic techniques such as brainstorming, work in groups and individuals, discussions, case studies, panels, skits, conceptual maps, talks, seminars, workshops, video forums; all with special care in to give seriousness to the boarding of the theme.

This type of education seeks to strengthen criteria that may be applied to the various situations of daily life

Special Considerations

The teaching staff must bear in mind that the topic of sexuality, involves the development of capacities for channeling positively the expression of ideas, feelings and emotions, avoiding situations that may cause discomfort or rejection to the persons that are being taught this class

It should provide ethical criteria, solid, objective and scientific, without trying to impose their own points of view, certain ideological positions or relating to the own experience of life.

It should be avoided, provide criteria that may affect emotionally to the learners, or that they mean judgments or discriminatory opinions about themselves or their relatives.

Why is this material important? It helps our society, and due to the nature of any theme, it is difficult to conciliate it with our culture due to the diversity that goes on in our country, beliefs and personal values, all of this united were capable of producing a piece of material relevant for society.

Role as a Teacher

Some teachers' approach is to teach abstinence first and then discuss the possibilities of what can happen if students choose non-abstinence, looking at not just sexually transmitted diseases, but also physical and mental changes. They must always remark that abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent a premarital pregnancy and a monogamous marriage is the best way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

What is a teacher's job in their class and what values should them be promoting to their students? With teachers being fully acquainted with what they should be teaching they must be able to analyze their social relationships in which they are involved in every day, and be competent to communicate, dialogue, and in general, be able to accomplish the abilities that allow them to perform an appropriate social integration. The importance to value their community and everybody else, the importance of making your rights and the rights from everybody else be respected and make them be done, and most importantly something that it should not be left behind, is making them conscious about what problems they may be overcoming or facing at any moment of their lives by showing and teaching them how they should confront them.

You must especially take into considerations the teachers since they have the responsibility of analyzing their students, and by this I mean they must be capable of recognizing in what type of environments they are developing and prevent these students from growing up in hostile environment. The role as a teacher, is to see what are the students interest on, and from there give their class, because as a student I do not give my time to subjects or materials I am not interested on, but if they are important, I would expect the teacher to get me interested. The teacher must impart their class from the learning capacities he sees on the students, because, for example, if he teaches from a book and makes a student read it, learn it, and from there give exams, in my opinion, the students are not comprehending or learning correctly. A student should be not only interested in theory but in practice, therefore, I would encourage talks and social activities that would make the class more dynamic and more interested to be on. As well as the teachers must completely comprehend the topic they are boarding they must also be in charge of teaching and making clear to the parents what they are giving to their students about the themes relation to sexual education.

The teacher I interviewed, which was not in charge of giving themes of sexual education, , accomplished all these. I quote:

"What I do in both schools when I give the classes, that the students also ask me to do, is a panel forum with them. I ask them what are their topics of interest, and they answer sexuality"

"I analyze their problems and understand them"

"Yes, I interact with them and I love to have good communications with them, because in that way I identify their interests, desires, doubts and worries because I know I can help them"

"I love making discussions, panel forums, round tables on this type of thematic. I like to say that no matter the amount of condoms that are used, there is always a risk"

"I like to read, listen to the radio, and watch television programs that can help me, because I believe that the teacher should always be updated to know how to deal with this generation."

Parental Involvement

Sex education must not be only engaged in teenagers or pre-teenagers, but also in parents who must be interested and care for the development of their children. What they must do is create relationships in the family where teenagers can easily adapt to, an environment free of hostility, and capable of solving conflicts that involve every member of the family.

In Nicaragua, participation of parents in the development of these critically important programs is seldom if ever observed at the grass roots. Hence, they do not know what is being taught to their children, they have no decision to it, and their role as parents is not being done efficiently as it should be expected. Parents are in charge of bringing into the table everyday values that need to be taught to their children not only by the school, but by them. Besides, full acknowledgment of what their children have been taught in school gives new ideas and improvements done by them to the school, since they can now have a decision on what it should be taught and bring on debates in whether these decisions must be done. Therefore, the role of the school should be that of assisting and completing the work of parents. However, this is not done according to a teacher of the school: "I talk to them about the values of our body, and elevate their self esteem, because many of the students who come from very disintegrated families (no mom, no dad or without anyone talking to them about sex). They only hear about this orientation in schools, therefore we do the parents jobs here. Besides, the parents who are in charge of it do not do it either because they do not know the information or because they consider it a taboo (sexual education)"

Parents have a lot of influence over their children, and if conversations about sex were a normal, natural part of day-to-day life, when it's appropriate and when it's needed, I think that would have a tremendous impact. Therefore, with the correct guidelines given to them, this could be improved by involving the parents more into the school showing them their curriculum, doing meetings frequently where they could be updated, and find a way to know whether or not all the material being showed to the parents is making a positive effect at home in order to see if this information should be kept being shown to them, however, when this happens even more work must be done by the school to make the required formation of teens possible and efficient at home.

Results from Surveys

How well do you consider the class of sexual education in your school is?

The people who said "Good" and "Excellent" were for many reasons. In school they give them a conscious sexual education (actualized with reality), prepare them for what they are going to be expecting in life, teach them sexuality's ups and downs, make them conscious of the importance of it, the consequences and risks that come from experiencing it, know more about sex, teach them how to take care of their sexual life, they learn about their bodies and how to take care of them, know about things not everybody does, prevents them from any danger, learn about some contraceptive methods and how to use them, know they cannot have sexual intercourse with a random person, their doubts are cleared, talks are given, helps them prevent a teenage pregnancy, makes them think about their responsibility before taking decisions, and even though it is not a profound sexual education the school gives them the essential points.

People who said "Regular" and "Bad" was because they say they do not receive sexology, boys already know so much about sex in present times, themes are left short and not developed, the school does not give them the topics they are interested in learning, not all teachers take into consideration these themes, they give them a short amount of information and this short amount is interrupted from the same alumni, they do not reach further on the topic, and leave them with questions, concrete information is not given, attention is not paid, do not talk much about the topic, mocking is done, missing intensity, not much interest from them when they should, and it is only imparted in civics.

If you can see, answers contradict themselves from many perspectives, for these reasons, all answers are subjective, but can still be taken into consideration. While the majority says that sexual education in their school is good and rest says no, it still means some problems exist, and reinforcement can still be done. Interests are subjective, but if we can find a class were all the topics are taken into consideration, deepened enough, and full participation is accomplished no problems would arise.

Sexual education has been taught to you through?

Presentations rule in the method teachers use to impart their classes. This means that they are learning not only from books and theory; they are participating.

In what other way have you been informed about sex? (television, magazines, newspaper, radio, friends, classmates, family) Comment.

These graphs show the dominant source for teenagers to get acquainted with sex, is television. This is evidence to what I mentioned before, teenagers now have more access to television, and their minds are being affected no matter right or wrong. After television, friends and classmates are who play an important role in a person's life as well as family who give them more information about these topics. Then comes in the rest of the media which in general affect teenagers no matter how full acquainted they are with it. As a matter of evidence on how much it can affect the quantity of knowledge you know about sexual education, this question rose. We cannot do anything about this, since it cannot be controlled, because you get affected by it indirectly or directly.

Have you encountered difficulties with sexuality or have you experienced changes? Have you had answers to these concerns proper to your age?

In the three grades, more than half said they did not have problems which means either they have not experienced anything or are fully informed, few answered complete. Next, are the people who did have problem but have had their answers because of the school, parents, or friends they asked. Finally, there were the people who did have problems but never got their answers neither from the school nor family. This means that there is still a portion of students whose problems or concerns have not be answered, and the teachers have still not gained full trust from them. Therefore, we can implement meetings or talks were they could all ask their questions, stop being shy, provide trust, or build stronger relations between them and the parents through the meetings that are held with the teachers.

""When we have meetings, I look for texts where it appears how the parents can help their children. I give them tips or ideas on how to treat the kids, be a little more flexible. Every time, another year comes by, a new school year does too. Each time a new year begins a new thematic suddenly shows parents how to deal with their children, for example, in today's meeting that I have with the parents I have a text prepared for them that says "10 tips on how to treat adolescents". I'm going to let them discuss in pairs, and then make them expose their ideas so they can also capacitate themselves."- says Professor Flor de Maria (Civics)

"We do meetings with the parents, and they even learn from these meetings, because as I was telling you the students come from poor families, and some did not go to school, do not have careers, or have really poor jobs. In the meetings, we give topics that help the parents improve communication with their children."- Professor Vilma Tapia (Civics)

According to your opinion or criteria, what themes do you suggest adding to the program or content of sexual education being taught at your school?

Ninth Grade


How many people said it



How to prevent a pregnancy?


What changes occur after sex?




Contraceptive Methods


Sex Addiction


Risks from sex


Tenth Grade


How many people said it



Contraceptive Methods


Rescue to our principles and respect to a sexual life


Causes and Effect from having a sex at a young age


Risks you take from having sex


Sexual Diversity


How to control sexual anxiety?


Sex Addiction


Why is a Tabu? How to remove it as that?


Is Masturbation correct?


Sex, promoter for abortion


How to prevent teenage pregnancy?


Eleventh Grade


How many times people said it



Contraceptive Methods, and their correct use


Is it good to teach people about this?


Ways to prevent a pregnancy


Causes and Consequences from having sex


At what age can you start having sex?


Make the theme stop being a Taboo


Maturity when taking the topic


Teenage Pregnancy




Maternity and Paternity in the adolescence. Train the alumni




Myths about sex


Changes that come from having sex


You can see in these lists that the common topics of interest are how to prevent teenage pregnancy, contraceptive methods and how to use them, consequences from having sex in general, and STD's. From all these you can see a pattern that they are interested on having sex, and they are afraid of the risks if something goes wrong, and they are afraid because they lack knowledge about it. Therefore, it's effective to teach them all these topics so they can be non ignorant, know what they are doing, and completely acknowledge the consequences that come from it.

Therefore, the school must be in charge of providing them with all these information, and if they are putting this on the list is because they do not know it, and they want to know it. These could be the topics of interest they have always looked for, and instead being bored and not paying attention, listen and learn.

What aspects of sexual education would you like to learn in your school? Ex. Contraceptive methods, STD's, anatomy, etc.

Contraceptive methods are the topic the majority of students want to learn about in a more profound way I believe. Then comes anatomy which was taught to them in primary, but it seems they want to be reinforced in that theme also. Finally, venereal diseases are left, which are the risks of the previous two top


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