The birds and the bees are not enough

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The birds and the bees are not enough


On a recent afternoon, hundreds of students gathered in an auditorium for a lecture on sex education by a guest speaker. Many of them were chatting with their friends, some were dozing off or immersed in other thoughts. Those who were interested in the subject seemed reluctant to actively participate. They didn’t want to seem overly interested in sex. For lectures like these, some schools select one class to attend and report to other classes. Others have students watch a video. Again, not many students pay attention to the screen. Needless to say, sex education in Korean schools is not very effective.

The legally mandatory curriculum requires at least 10 hours of sex education per year, with lessons on sexual violence, the sex trade and sexual harassment prevention. At present, most schools offer five hours of sex education per year in their health classes. But heath is an elective, and not many students take it because of the focus on academics and college admission.

Nowadays, children and adolescents resolve their curiosity about sex through the Internet and the media, but if they obtain incorrect information, they may develop distorted ideas about sex. And there are no educational programs to clear up these misconceptions.

Other developed countries, such as France, require 30 to 40 hours of sex education per year, but Korean students receive an average of 5.3 hours. In Finland and Germany, students take a health class that is required for graduation.

Our schools need to provide at least 10 hours of sex and health education, in addition to making the subject interesting for students. Sex education classes in Korea are often limited to boring topics, such as how a baby is conceived when the sperm and egg meet. Sex and health education should provide accurate information that students want to know and need to learn to help them develop a healthy concept of sex. There is so much for young Koreans to know, from how the genders are different, how a man and woman should communicate, what constitutes sexual violence and how to respond to it.

To address these problems, The Body Shop is running a human rights campaign for children and adolescents in collaboration with Ecpat Korea (Naeil Women’s Center for Youth). We need to work on providing consistent and systematic sex and health education to address the real issues and concerns of young people and help them develop a healthy sexual identity.

*The writer is the president of ECPAT Korea (Naeil Women’s Center for Youth)
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

By Lee Hyeon-suk
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