MANILA, Philippines?How young should a child be taught sex education?
Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral on Wednesday risked drawing the ire of the Catholic hierarchy anew by arguing that even children in kindergarten should be exposed to ?appropriate? sex education.
?Actually, even those in kindergarten should be given a some information about that,? she said in Filipino in an ambush interview in Malacañang. ?It?s not right that when one gets pregnant, that?s only the time when she should know how she got pregnant. That?s not how it works.?
Cabral added: ?From a young age, they should already be given lessons appropriate to their age.?
But Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza advised concerned agencies of government to ?consult? the Church, particularly the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, before any policy or program on sex education is made final.
?We have always respected the opinions and the advocacy of the religious (sector), particularly the CBCP,? he said in a media briefing. ?I think it?s best for the DepEd (Department of Education) to do a consultation before any policy is made on this particular issue.?
Mendoza said the DepEd would have to address ?some reservations? coming from the CBCP and other church organizations.
Such reservations apparently go beyond sex education, extending to the larger issue of a legislated government policy on reproductive health (RH).
The RH bill is stuck on second reading at the House of Representatives and by all indications, would go through the eye of the needle again in the coming 15th Congress under a new administration.
Education Secretary Mona Valisno earlier announced the implementation of a program intended to provide sex education to high school students. She was quoted as saying: ?Teaching sex education in school is still better than letting students learn the topic from any sources, such as the Internet.?
One thing revolting to those opposed to such a program is the idea of exposing grade school pupils to sex education.
Cabral was confident that the DepEd would know the ?appropriate time? when children would be exposed to the subject matter.
?I don?t think they would give to children the type of sex education appropriate only for adults. They know what they?re doing,? she said.
Cabral earlier enraged the CBCP for leading the distribution of free condoms in time for Valentine?s Day this year.
She argued that the program was meant to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but Catholic bishops warned that it would promote promiscuity.