(Unpublished - Feb 9, 2009)
Tackling Underaged Sex
I refer to recent reports on under-aged sex.
The report addressed the increase in girls under 16 having sex.
While it is important it be discussed and debated, such a social phenomena should not be an easy excuse for creating any moral panic nor legitimising any singular brand of sex education.
Previously, on top of legal sanctions, there was also a stronger social stigma that helped to prevent underage sex.
Now, we are not only confronted with changing mindsets, but a diversity of ideas on what sexual values and morality consist. In today’s context, invoking social and moral sanctions does not create the same solidarity as before.
Furthermore, it does not help that physiologically, teenagers today mature generally earlier than previous generations.
With these changes in mind, we should tackle under-aged sex by continuing to openly provide a variety of information that can empower our young to make informed decisions pertaining to emotional and sexual health.
At the same time, the laws pertaining to under-aged sex and the protection of minors should also be reasonably explained and justified to our young.
We should not engage in any moral panic and start blaming the liberal media or peer pressure. Such an activity could cause us to adopt stringent measures that will only drive youth sex into secrecy.
And in view of the notion that the “forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest”, we should be less secretive and ashamed in discussing issues on sex. Only an open society is capable of doing that.
We must depart from the thinking that the mongering of shame, guilt and fear is the way to teach sex education, for one generation’s ideas of shame, guilt and fear may not be consistent with another generation’s. In the same line, we ourselves should not feel shame, guilt or fear when discussing sex with the younger generation.
We must also depart from the idea that teenage sexuality does not exist, that youngsters are asexual and void of erotic feelings, for turning a blind eye to underage sex makes us equally complicit in a phenomenon we call a social problem.
Our fear of and lack of responsibility in sex education ourselves have manifested in the endless blame games, moral panics, demonising and marginalisation of queer identities, as well as the villainising and stigmatism of unplanned teenage pregnancy.
Instead of spending our resources on identifying or even isolating causes such as the decadent media, poor familial nurturing or negative peer pressure, we should invest in making our society open to sexual health, sexual responsibility and sex education.
Ho Chi Sam