Thursday, 11 November 2010

An Introduction and Some Issues

Possibly due to extreme caffeine overdose and a moment of madness, I decided that it would be a good idea to start a blog. Whether this actually is a good idea remains to be seen. In any case, I feel it will be a good exercise in making myself think about things beyond when my university deadlines are, when the next time I will get access to my games consoles is and when my next chance to get my coffee fix is.

So, for my first blog post, I have decided to dive right into the heavy stuff. There are a couple of  issues that, even in a world full of issues, I would fix in a heartbeat if I had the ability. These aren't even things that would involve changing human nature, just things that could be implemented by governments that I feel would make things... not necessarily better, but it would be an improvement to a certain extent.

First off, an issue I feel very strongly about: mandatory sex education in schools. I feel this should not be up for debate; it should be a given thing. Sex education in most schools today is absolutely woeful. My own was better than most it has to be said, although it mostly consisted of a few technical aspects from the biology teachers, and basic contraception information and lots of scary pictures of STIs from the school nurse.

I remember one of my infrequent visits to Yahoo! Answers where I came across a question from a distraught seventeen year-old girl. Panicking over the fact that her boyfriend was pressuring her to go on the pill, she was asking for help because she had no idea what the pill really was, how it worked or where she could go to find out about it. To me, this is unacceptable. At the very least, if schools can't get staffmembers willing to educate their students themselves, they should have contact details for family planning clinics or tell them that their local GP will be more than willing to give them information should they ask for it.

But honestly, giving basic sex education should not be the big deal some people make it out to be. A brief run through of basic forms of contraception, the dangers of STIs and the risk of pregancy. None of these things take much time to explain, and all are valuable information. I mean, people complain about teenage pregnancy all the time; surely this would help to stem that problem a little bit, eh? Also, teaching abstinence is all well and good, but it's quite clear that teaching abstinence on its own isn't helping. It's not a bad idea, but when it clearly fails to deter some teenagers, then presenting information on options for safe sex seems to be a sensible solution. Hormones do not always make for good judgement, but we are still entitled to make our own decisions; give us a way to do that without risking our health or our education by ending up with an STI or an unwanted pregnancy.

My second point is tied into the first. Abstinence is taught as a contraceptive measure (and often as the only contraceptive measure) generally as a result of the Catholic view that contraception is against God's will. It is my opinion that religion should be kept well away from the education system. Far, far away.

Now, I am not saying that we should get rid of religion. While I'm not religious myself, I have no issue with other people believing in it. It is a choice that they have made and I can respect that, just as I would expect them to respect that I have made a choice not to follow it myself. However, I feel that in many cases religion is far too closely tied to schools, particularly in parts of America.

School is meant to teach us skills that will benefit us in later life, and it also teaches us the social skills that we need every day. However, I feel that religion is not needed, and should not be present in this environment. As I said before, religion is a choice that children should be allowed to make on their own, and school should not be part of trying to influence that decision. Parents, yes, because they are the ones raising their child and they, while they must give their child their own personal freedoms, are still the ones that influence their everyday lives. It is only natural that parents may impart religious ideals to their child, and it is the child's decision whether they believe in it or not.

A big sticking point seems to be where we get our morals from. Morality is not intrinsically linked with religion, and I get very, very annoyed when people claim otherwise. I was not raised in a religious household, yet I would not consider myself a bad person. Likewise, I doubt anyone could claim that anyone raised Christian, Muslim or any other religion is necessarily a good person. In any case, I've always believed that morals are simply a code of ethics; a sense of right and wrong that doesn't need to be grounded in religion in order for you to live your life by it. This is taught to you by your parents, and though it may be influenced by your school life, it shouldn't be pushed on to you in a religious sense by your school.

That's not to say I don't think we should have religious education. I actually think that's very important. In fact, I'm pretty sure educating children and teenagers on other religions and cultures is the only way we're ever going to acheive any level of tolerance. I just don't think we should be taught to believe in a certain religion.

So yeah, those are things that, if I was given the power to do it, I would change about the way they are handled. I just feel these things are too important to let them carry on the way they are. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm missing glaring flaws in my view that, if they were ever implemented, would bring society crashing down around us. I don't know. I just wanted to share my thoughts on these matters.

So...Mint, exit stage left...

1 comment:

  1. Hello!

    I enjoyed reading your first blog entry: you have your finger on some very interesting issues that often seem to be overlooked. The thoughts on sex education for me draw on a problem with the way sex is presented to us as a society, and the taboo surrounding it. One tends to think that we might manage to surpass these issues in this day and age, but they still seem prevalent factors. You're quite right that teenage pregnancy is a very serious issue, which seems like it isn't being taken seriously enough. Resolving this issue I think would rely on two important steps; as you say, a very rigorous and involved sexual education at schools, featuring all the relevant information which is often barely glanced over; and another element I feel quite strongly about, in stressing that teenagers should not feel pressured into having sex. At the moment, people are exposed at a very young age to a lot of sexual propaganda, and there is a great deal of pressure on teenagers to be sexually active as soon as possible.

    On religion, the issue of sex is always a loaded one. It's important to be clear on what the catholic church really teaches. The Church doesn't say that getting pregnant is the only important thing about sex, with or without any qualifiers (such as "but only with love"). Sex without procreation is still good (it only becomes bad if it is also lacking enjoyment and loving intimacy), but less good than sex between two partners that at least do not obviate fertility. By willingly diminishing (again: diminishing, not devaluing) something as beautiful as sex you are committing a sin - if only a venial one. Although, I completely agree with your thoughts on the way religion is presented and how people are brought up to be religious. Religion should always be a choice people make later in their life, since children and teenagers are so very impressionable, it seems somewhat irresponsible to allow them to make such an important life choice such as following a religion. Religion should be a mandatory part of learning, but from an objective point of view, taking into account all the various religions. From there, people should be able to make their own decision about what they believe in. Anyway, this is becoming a blog entry in itself. I look forward to reading more!