Survey shows that youth in Singapore lack knowledge of sexual health
60% in survey did not take measures to avoid pregnancy or STDs
Sixty per cent of young people in a study, who have engaged in sexual activities, did not take any precaution to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
This disturbing fact was revealed in the survey done by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic's diploma in psychology studies students. It drew responses from 800 people, aged 16 to 25.
The findings revealed many were unsure about approaching their parents to discuss sexual issues, perceiving them to be unsupportive.
For half of the sexual health knowledge questions, more than half were unsure of the answer or answered wrongly.
Ms Tan Joo Hymn, organiser and facilitator of Aware's Bird and Bees programme, told The New Paper the results were disturbing because it showed young people in Singapore were not getting sufficient information about sexual health.
This is dangerous because it might lead to unsafe sexual practices and poor emotional well-being.
She said: "For Aware, the survey drove home our belief in the need for responsible, open conversation about sex in Singapore."
The Ministry of Education (MOE) values an abstinence-based approach as the best form of protection against STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
MOE's director of the guidance branch at the student development curriculum division, Madam Choy Wai Yin, told TNP that in primary schools, pupils are guided on how to manage the various changes they may experience growing up.
They are also taught the importance of family, personal safety and how to protect themselves from sexual exploitation and abuse.
She said: "At the secondary school, junior college and Millennia Institute levels, there is greater focus on teaching students how to build healthy relationships based on love and respect, and how to protect themselves physically and psychologically.
"Topics such as relationship management and consequences of sexual behaviour are also taught."
Dr Grace Huang, a resident doctor at DTAP Clinic at Robertson Walk, told TNP the clinic sees many patients with limited sexual health knowledge. Many have misconceptions about STDs and she sees women who are misinformed about contraception
She said: "Sex education is crucial for developing a healthy sexuality and teaching children and (young people) to keep themselves safe. It goes beyond merely teaching them about sexual intercourse and abstinence."
Aware's Ms Tan said it was a common misconception that talking about sex encourages young people to engage in sex.
She said: "Studies have shown that a comprehensive sexuality education has led to delayed first sexual encounters, more consistent condom usage and fewer sexual partners."
Ms Schutz Lee, 51, a mother of two teenage daughters, said it was worrying that young people feel they cannot talk to their parents about sex.
She said: "Parents should make use of teachable moments to bring up uncomfortable topics. They should try to not approach the topic from a moral standpoint but rather an objective standpoint, which will allow our children to be more open to some of our ideas."