Adolescents Attitude towards Sex Education; a Study of Senior High Schools in Kumasi Metropolis

Article excerpt

*Morality of the young is of perennial concern to educators throughout the world. As a result numerous studies have been conducted and various suggestions have been made in order to educate the young people about their sexual functioning. The study was conducted specifically to find out about adolescents attitude towards sex education and their opinions on various sexual issues that are incumbent on development to adulthood sexuality. It was also to establish the need for sex education in schools. A descriptive design was used with a sample size for the study being 320 comprising respondents selected from form two students in eight senior secondary schools in Kumasi Metropolis. The schools were obtained from a stratified, purposive and random sampling. The research revealed a number of findings in respect of the adolescents' opinions about the sexual issues involved in their growth to adulthood. These findings which have significant implications are summarised below. Respondents were overwhelmingly in support of the view that sex education should be introduced in the senior high school curriculum. It was also evident that sex education can be improved in the SHSs by establishing counselling centres and also by forming virgin clubs in the schools.

INTRODUCTION

The end of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century represented an important period in the invention of the concept we now call adolescence. Adolescence can be described as the period between the latter stage of childhood and early stage of adulthood (Health Foundation of Ghana, 2004). The World Health Organization (W. H. O. [1975]) suggested adolescence to be the period between the ages of 10 and 19 or the second decade of life. Adolescents, therefore, refer to boys and girls who fall within this stage or period.

Sex education simply refers to the systematic attempt to promote the healthy awareness in the individual on matters of his or her sexual development, functioning, behaviour and attitudes through direct teaching. Sex is a topic, which most people would not like to talk about. The Ghanaian parents' attitude to sex is that the child will grow to know. In the home, when the child is present and parents are discussing issues about sex, even the adolescent child is kept away from sight. An inquisitive child who ventures to ask questions about sex is morally branded "a bad" child. Many societies and homes consider discussions of sexual issues as a taboo. In view of this, most parents find it too difficult, awkward and uncomfortable to discuss sex related issues with their children. Children are condemned when they mention a word referring to some sexual organ or act. Even the hands of babies are hit whenever they fondle with their sex organs. Due to this, throughout adolescence, the youth in the country learn about sex and sexuality in a variety of ways devoid, in most cases, of factual and empirical information and in secrecy.

The child comes to know about sex possibly from an early age through relatives, friends, the elderly, movies and drawing. A 14year- old adolescent was asked where he learned about sex. He responded, "in the streets." Asked if this was the only place, he said, 'Well, I learned some from playboy and other sex magazines". What about school, he was asked. He responded, "No, they talk about hygiene, but not much that could help you out". When asked his parents' contributions, he replied, "They haven't told me one thing". (Powers and Baskin, 1969).

In a similar survey contained in the Population Report (1995), seventy five percent of the students sampled preferred to discuss about bodily changes that occur during adolescence with peers of the same sex, none of them wanted it to be with their parents. As a result of a cultural taboo, adolescents in many developing countries rarely discuss sexual matters explicitly with their parents. Most information for their patchy knowledge often comes from peers of the same sex, who may themselves be uninformed or incorrectly informed. …