“Pedophiles’ blackmail victims into sex acts”, “Lustful minors”, these are the recent news titles published in newspapers in 2013 from New Straits Times. Sex education has always been a sensitive issue, in a particular in a country like Malaysia; and the issue has been brought into discussion since January 1991 until the latest on November 2008 (Sunday Times, 2010). There are rising of cases of unwanted pregnancies, baby dumping and minors raping minors where in most of situations involved consensual sex. In worst situation, some of the minors do not understand what they are doing. This proved the need of sex education in schools. Nevertheless, Malaysia still refused to implement a complete sex education in schools.
While recent reported cases revealed that sexual misconduct among children not only occurred among teenagers or secondary school, but also at young age involving primary school children; thus painted a serious outlook for Malaysia. According to the Principal Assistant Director of the Sexual Crimes, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Investigations Division of Royal Malaysian Police, a number of 22 cases of sexual misconduct involving children were reported from 2011 until September 2013—this number involved children aged below 13 years old (source: Royal Malaysian Police 2013). Interestingly, there were no cases on sexual misconduct of minors against minors reported before 2011; this may not mean that there was no cases of sexual misconduct among children in the country, perhaps, it exist, but not reported to the authority or the children’s parents or guardian remain silent about the situation.
Most of the serious reported cases were publicized in the local newspapers; however, there still a number of unreported cases remain unknown. The human rights commissioner, James Nayagam believes that the schools have failed teaching the students to respect the human right of girls. He also claims that schools need to start implementing two important topics, which are on human rights and preventive sex education (The Star, 2010).
Curiosity among children regarding sex is rising; this is influenced by what they observed in the internet. In some situation, children are more expert than the adult in term of using advanced gadget to browse through the internet. These children are not always monitored by their parents or guardian. This is one of the negative consequences of internet to our young generation. Further, when the children don’t have their own gadget to browse the internet, they also can go to cyber cafe nearest their house. They are not only playing computer games, but they are also browsing the internet, especially the popular YouTube websites. Computers in the cyber café are usually not safe for the children, because sometimes the computers at the cafe are not restricted from certain “bad websites”, where illicit pictures of half-naked men and women can suddenly pop up from the computer screen.
According to an article from the Canadian Council on Learning (January, 2008), most young people stumble upon pornography while searching for something else. Recent study conducted among British children ages from 9 to 19 proved that most whom encountered online pornography did not give further attention, some get disgust by it and small number of them expressed an interest in it. However, the small amount of them is the one that need to be controlled as this may trigger the kids to click on the pop ups which, later brings them to the “bad websites”.
While a few developed countries such as Australia, United Kingdom and others have implemented sex education; Malaysia still in the early stage of implementing sex education in secondary school, yet it is still not completely implemented. Young children need to be educated about this matter. Without education, they might not be able to decide and defend for themselves especially the girls. Children who are in the process of growing up usually do not receive adequate information, knowledge and preparation for safe sexual life. The community often avoid from having an open conversation about sexual matters. At that particular age, these kids are crucially in need of conversation about sexual matters with the reliable person.
Unfortunately, most parents think that it is not necessary to have sexuality education at school. Based on a report written by Lee Choon Fai, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) executive director, Ivy Josiah, stated that open discussion about sex is often seen as an inappropriate in Malaysia, especially in the conservative communities (Selangor Times, 2012). They tend to think that sexuality education is one of the way or factor that could lead to social problem. For them, the children wouldn’t know and won’t involve in sex problem if the syllabus is not being teach at school. A primary teacher from Johor claimed that parents think that sexuality education teaches students how to have sex and all (The Star Online, 2012). But what they do not know is that sexuality education actually helps provide their children with knowledge and information about the effect of the immoral act such as the diseases, unwanted pregnancies and other social problem. This shows the need to have sex education in Malaysian primary schools; however, how ready of Malaysian parents to accept sex education for their children?
The issue of having/implementing sex education in Malaysian schools is not new. It arises as one of the solutions to deal with the rising number of baby dumping in Malaysia. Baby dumping issue, which strongly related to other social problems in Malaysia such as illegal sex, teenage pregnancy, unwanted pregnancy, pregnant out of wedlock and others, pressure the government and relevant parties in Malaysia to propose for solutions.
While a few solutions have been accepted, though with some challenges, such as the implementation of baby hatches (Gunaratnam and Agustin, 2010), school for pregnant teenagers (School of Hope in Malacca) (Ram and Elis, 2010), encourage young couples to get married; solution to have sex education among children is still partially implemented. Instead of agreeing to have a complete sex education in schools, Malaysian government argues that information about sex has been covered in several subjects in school such as in Biology and Social and Reproductive Health Studies.
The reluctant to implement sex education among school children may come with the idea of not exposing and encouraging teenagers to sex; on the other hand, this may means that Malaysian society is still in denial in accepting sex is happening among our teenagers. Thus, sex education is important to teach our children about sex and its consequences. However, the issue of sexual misconduct is not only happened among teenagers, but also involving young children.
While the implementation of sex education in Malaysian secondary schools are not well accepted by many parties; this study attempt to explore Malaysian parents’ readiness to accept sex education in primary schools due to the rising number of sexual misconduct among young children in the country. The introduction of sex education in primary school is not new. Developed countries such as Australia and United Kingdom have implemented sex education among primary school children and it’s proved to be effective in dealing with sexual misconduct among children in their countries.
The questions that arise while the research is conducted are as follows:
- What is the level of readiness and acceptance of having sex education as part of primary school syllabus?
- What are the relationship between conservative thinking, taboo subject, lack of expertise in schools and parents’ role, and the implementation of sex education among primary school children?
- What are the main factor that hinder the implementation of sex education among primary school children?
The main objective of this study is to find out the readiness and acceptance of the parents on the issue of implementing sex education in schools, especially in primary schools. To achieve the objective, the process of planning and implementing the subject should be done thoroughly so that it can be fully accepted by the parents.
The specific objectives of the study include:
- To study the parents’ level of readiness and acceptance of having sex education as part of primary school syllabus
- To explore the relationship between conservative thinking, taboo subject, lack of expertise in schools and parents’ role, and the implementation of sex education among primary school children.
- To examine the parents’ perception on main factors that hinders the implementation of sex education among the primary school children in Klang Valley
1.5 Scope of Study
This research will focus on parents’ readiness and acceptance on sex education among school children. The scope of this study is narrowed to parents because they play important role in their children’s’ life. Furthermore, in school, there is also an association that require parents’ involvement. For example, there is Parents and Teacher Association (PTA) where both parents and teachers will sit together discussing about the development of children and all problems associated with the students. Thus, parents’ voice will be taken into account if they agree to have and feel the need of sex education to be taught in schools.
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The study is necessary to bring the awareness of the community towards the importance of having sex education as part of school syllabus and the benefits that it will bring to the country. The findings of this study are important to help the affected parties to realize what sex education is all about and related knowledge that comes with the implementation of the subject. The subject will mostly affect the teenagers which are the students of the secondary school and other involved parties include the parents, school counsellor, teachers, the community and the government.
Sex education may help to overcome social problems among teenagers such as teenage pregnancy, pre-marital sex and under age sex. With the right module, sex education also provide the students the right information about sex and its related issues and at the same time, correct any inaccurate and insufficient information about sex that they learnt from the Internet or mass media. Apart from that, the introduction of the subject will help to educate teenagers about health issues related to sex namely ways to prevent pregnancies, unsafe abortions, abandoned babies, and sexually-transmitted diseases.
Science Daily described sex education as a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse and other aspects of human sexual behaviour.
With reference to Child Act 2001, child is define as a person under the age of eighteen years.
Macmillan Dictionary defines primary school as a school for children between the ages of four or five and eleven. In UK primary schools are sometimes divided into an infant school for the youngest children and a junior school. Same it goes to Malaysia, we have kindergarten for children age 5 and 6 and primary school with student age from 7 to 12.
We take definition on social problem from Maxwell School. It describes social problem as a condition that at least some people in a community view as being undesirable.
According to UNICEF, teenage pregnancy is defined as teenage girl, usually within the ages of 13-19, becoming pregnant. The term that is being used in the everyday speech frequently refers to girls who have not yet reached legal adulthood, which varies across the world, become pregnant.
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