In the 2016 SAYCW Youth Health Provincial Report, students were asked about mental and physical health as well as involvement in their community, substance use, and nutrition.
What I found the most interesting about this report was the statistics on sexual activity among young people.
In a sample size of 8,832 respondents, 43 per cent of students from grades 7-12 reported that they were sexually active. Of that number, 50 per cent of them reported becoming sexually active between the ages of 14-15 and 68 per cent are using condoms often or always.
In Canada, we are looking at 24.9 pregnancies out of a 1000 being from teen mothers.
For the sake of argument I will agree that abstinence is 100 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections but abstinence only training does not prepare students for a sexually active life.
Taking this discussion back to people I grew up with, many agreed that we were not prepared for the reality of being sexually active as adults.
The Saskatchewan curriculum for Grade 9 health education says, that “research also indicates that students who decide to become sexually active now or in the future need information about effective protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”
We are human. The majority of teens will eventually have sex in the future.
In a lot of abstinence based education, including when I was in school, shame in having sex was a big part of the abstinence discussion.
When has shaming a kid into not doing something ever worked?
Treating sex as something shameful does not allow for discussion on sex which leads to students being afraid to broach the subject at all with either parents or teachers.
Sex is a reality of being human and yes, there can be consequence and responsibilities that can come from them.
Realistically discussing sex in this way, using the United States as an example, creates a more sexually healthy population.
Sexually shaming also does not work in cases of sexual abuse.
Of those 43 per cent of sexually active teens in Saskatchewan, 31 per cent of females and 14 per cent of males reported being sexually assaulted, more specifically “experienced sexual activity when they did not want to.”
What does sexual shaming do for the mental and emotional health of those students let alone the students who want to talk about sex or have questions?
Open and honest discussion on sex, including the emotional and physical impacts, have proven more effective.