ST letter by Steven Tan
I RECENTLY came to know that upper secondary and junior college students go through an educational programme on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids), called Breaking Down Barriers, by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
Besides providing accurate facts about STIs, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Aids, the programme also imparts useful skills to students, such as decision-making and the right places to obtain reliable information, as well as assertiveness and strategies on how not to succumb to persuasion.
I was truly heartened to learn that the students were taught that the best way to avoid STIs and Aids is to avoid casual sex, sex with multiple partners and unprotected sex, and to stay faithful to a partner within the context of marriage.
However, the students were subsequently taught how to use a condom.
While I understand HPB’s good intention to curb the rising incidence of STIs among the young, I wish to express my concerns as a parent that students are being taught how to use condoms in school.
- It gives a mixed and confusing message. Is it not better to encourage students to avoid pre-marital sex altogether, since the programme also teaches that the use of condom is not 100 per cent safe?
- Students are not likely to heed or remember to practise safe sex just because they have attended a lesson on condom use.
- Even if they do use a condom, they are not likely – in the heat of the moment – to remember or follow the steps to use a condom correctly.
I truly appreciate the HPB’s efforts for creating such a programme and hope that it will review and consider whether it is really necessary or useful to teach students how to use a condom.
This confuses, contradicts and compromises the good advice to avoid pre-marital sex as the only foolproof protection against STIs and Aids.