Sex Education in India. Why deny it when we know we need it?

Essay, 2010

8 Pages, Grade: H3



1. Introduction

2. Why does youth need sex education?

3. If it works then what’s holding it back
3.1. Sex and Education
3.2. Sex and Culture

4. What needs to be done
4.1. Strengthening the message delivery
4.2. Changing the mindset

5. Conclusion

6. References

1. Introduction

One of the much-debated topics today is whether sex education is necessary? Considering the lack of a responsible approach towards sex among the youngsters, problems like, early pregnancies, abortions, STI, psychosexual issues, loss of families or social respect etc. are on an increase.

In USA alone over half a million teenage girls become pregnant every year out of which 78% of the pregnancies are unplanned 1. Sexually active teens with multiple partners are more prone to acquire a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and unwanted pregnancies.

It is widely believed that providing teenagers with information about pregnancy, birth control and prevention of STI is crucial, and that formal sex education is an appropriate vehicle for providing that information 2.

The question that arises is whether sex education is necessary, if it is then why people are not getting it? So that they can make an informed choice about whether they will have sex? and whether they will use contraception?

2. Why does youth need sex education?

People need the right information to help protect themselves. Sex education aims to reduce the risks of potentially negative outcomes from sexual behavior. It also aims to contribute to young people’s positive experience of their sexuality by enhancing the quality of their relationships and their ability to make informed decisions over their lifetime.

Ignorance and sex can be a troubling and sometimes deadly mix for young people and people living under suffocating societal demands 3. The lack of understanding about sexual issues is risky, and more likely to lead young people to have unwanted pregnancies, abortions, STI, and sex related violence.

A number of studies have shown that sex education programs can potentially increase knowledge pertaining to human reproduction and change attitude towards usage of contraception methods. One study has provided evidence that teenage women who have received any type of sex education are less likely to have been pregnant than are those who have received no such education 4.

Nobody can argue with the proposition that prevention is better than cure, and in case of sexuality, that the use of contraception is better than termination of pregnancy or getting infected with an STI.

3. If it works then what’s holding it back

3.1. Sex and Education

One of the biggest flaws in our approach towards sex education seems to be fear in minds and issues of morality in the society. Although the concerns of unwanted pregnancy and STI are certainly well-founded and substantial, a growing number of experts in the field of adolescent sexuality argue that a unidirectional focus on these threats constrains our understanding of adolescent sexuality and hinders our ability to provide teens with essential knowledge, guidance and support 5.

For many parents, the idea of sex education for a child is not just foreign, but taboo and is difficult even for children to discuss it with their parents. Content of the message also creates confusion and lack of motivation to discuss sexuality among families. Emotions also get in the way of an unbiased assessment of the effect of sex education.

Sex education in the public schools is a controversial subject 6. Indeed teaching sex in schools is a ‘tricky subject’, but it is a vital to combat ignorance. Millions of students studying in schools are denied any such advice, as governments avoid all mention of introducing sex education in schools.

3.2. Sex and Culture

Sex education has often been held back by the social and cultural values. Some cultures are more open to talking about sex and protection; like western culture. In some cultures, sex can be compared to classic forbidden fruit syndrome. It is forbidden, therefore it must be exciting. Ignorance about even the basics of sex only adds to this melancholy; and achieves no purpose - since the victims are likely to learn about it through a practical demonstration.

In countries such as India, which is a cultural dominated society, in 2007 some culturists burned down schoolbooks that discussed contraception and STI, and forced the government to drop related chapters from science textbooks. Their agenda was “Imparting this kind of education would mean devaluing Indian culture and values, so we will fight to protect our rich heritage.” 7. Conservative groups seem to be oblivious about the problems, for them terms like culture and decency are major agendas but not the concrete facts about irresponsible sexual behavior.

The principal objection of these so-called moralists is that ‘sex education ignores the social and cultural backgrounds of people’; these moralists seem to be governed by the dictum that if you ignore a problem, it does not exist - or, if it does, it will magically go away. These theories of culture and morality are big shams. People need to learn about sex, and boys have to be trained to adopt alternative modes of relating to women, rather than just being aggressive. Breaking down these barriers is the goal of the Public health professionals. The results are worth it. People are going to engage in sexual activities anyway, then why shouldn’t talk about it openly, so at least they know how to protect themselves and how to say no.


1 Bay-Cheng L. The Trouble of Teen Sex: The construction of adolescent sexuality through school-based sexuality education. Sex Education. 2003; 3(1):61-74.

2 Dawson, DA. The Effects of Sex Education on Adolescent Behavior. Family Planning Perspectives,.1986;18(4): 162-170.

3 India Together: Sex education still off the charts: Parul Sharma - 10 December 2005 [Internet]. 2016 [cited 25 April 2016]. Available from:

4 Zelnik MKim Y. Sex Education and Its Association with Teenage Sexual Activity, Pregnancy and Contraceptive Use. Family Planning Perspectives. 1982; 14(3):117.

5 Ehrhardt A. Our view of adolescent sexuality--a focus on risk behavior without the developmental context. Am J Public Health. 1996; 86(11):1523-1525.

6 Sonenstein FPittman K. The Availability of Sex Education in Large City School Districts. Family Planning Perspectives. 1984; 16(1):19.

7 Discreet Sex education breaks Indian taboo’ [Internet]. 2009 [cited 2010Oct15]. Retrieved from:>.

Excerpt out of 8 pages


Sex Education in India. Why deny it when we know we need it?
University of Melbourne  (School Of Population Health)
Master Of Public Health
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
439 KB
education, india
Quote paper
Shoab Ahmad (Author), 2010, Sex Education in India. Why deny it when we know we need it?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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