Attitude Towards Sex Education Amongst Adolescents in Delhi Ajanta Anindita (P09066) Eresh Sabharwal (P09080) Rahul Agrawal (P09102) Personnel Management & Industrial Relations, XLRI School of Business and Human Resources Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India Abstract Purpose – The purpose of the study is two-fold. First, it tries to investigate the effect of attitude adolescents posses towards sex and sex education on their level of sex awareness. Also, it tries to establish whether gender is a moderator of the relationship between adolescents ? attitude and sex awareness. Design/Methodology/Approach – A questionnaire was given to the students of schools and colleges in Delhi asking their attitudes towards sex, attitude towards sex education and their level of sex awareness. The results of this questionnaire were then analyzed to validate the study. Findings – Positive correlation was found between the attitudes and the level of sex awareness. Also, partial mediation effect of the attitude towards sex education was proved. Another important finding was that the beta coefficient of attitude towards sex and sex awareness was egative in case of males but positive in case of females, showing the effect of gender as a moderator. Research Limitations/Implications – The limitations of the research were that no existing study of attitude towards sex education of adolescents was done. Also, our research was targeted only towards the urban population which can be stretched to rural population as a part of future researches. Future research can also include a higher difficulty level questionnaire testing sex awareness among adolescents.
Practical Implications – Sex education is very necessary for the students in India because they eceive information from different media s whic? h is incomplete and incorrect. Originality/Value – The study is one of the first to test the attitude of adolescents towards sex education bringing out the importance of sex education in today s society.? Keywords – Sex awareness, Attitude towards sex, Sex education Paper type – Research Paper Introduction In India, adolescents receive most sex related information from media and peers. Schools have not played an active role in providing sex education to the students. It is very important for the students to know about sex and the bodily and health effects that sex causes. India has the highest number of HIV/AIDS infectants in the world. Adolescents are the most vulnerable to such sexually transmitted diseases, and more so with the lack of knowledge that they possess. Even the knowledge that the adolescents possess is incomplete and inaccurate as it is received from secondary sources. Sex awareness is affected by the attitude of adolescents towards sex and sex education. Several authors have tried to define attitude in several different ways. Shaw and Wright (1967) opined that attitude entails an existing predisposition to respond to social objects, hich in interactions with situational and other dispositional variables, guides and directs the overt behavior of the individual. In India sex is considered as a taboo. Most families do not feel comfortable talking about sex. Females face societal restrictions till they are married. All these factors heavily affect the attitude that adolescents share towards sex. We have also tried to measure the attitude of adolescents towards sex education as it is considered a great help to impart sex awareness among students from an early age in their life. Sex education in schools oes not only give the students the information they require about sex at the correct time but also give them complete and correct information as it comes through the right source. Gender has been taken as a moderator which affects sex awareness.
The societal obligation that exists in India gives existence to a different kind of attitude towards sex between boys and girls. Even though boys and girls live in the same society study in same institutions, there are various restrictions that are put on the females which are exhibited in their attitudes. The aim of the study s to verify the mediation effect of gender on the three related components, namely attitude towards sex, attitude towards sex education and level of sex awareness. Research Background and Hypothesis Attitude towards sex education Sex Education is an instrument which schools in many countries have included as a means to impart knowledge among the students about sex and its related impact on health. In India, sex education is a means still to show its dominance in schools. Adolescents today require basic knowledge about reproductive biology so as to develop better understanding about their own body and health. Sex education in schools becomes all the more important because this information needs to come through the correct medium. Adolescents receive information about this from almost everywhere, especially mediums which do not give them correct and complete information. Ignorance in such matters is exacerbated through low school attendance, attitudes that prohibit discussion about sexual matters and lack of sex education (Bott & Jejeebhoy 2003; McCauley & Salter 1995). There have been studies in the past which demonstrate lack of knowledge among adolescent regarding reproductive biology (Gupta 1988).
There are potential ifficulties in incorporating sex education in the education policies of a state. According to authors like Beattie and Meredith (1989), sex education is a potential are of political discredit. . Oz (1991), Kirby et al. (1979) and Sonenstein and Pittman (1984) mentioned these difficulties in the USA. In Europe, Csincsak et al. (1994) referred to the same difficulties that Lo? pez (1990) had also identified in Spain. The European countries where sex education was more integrated into the educational policies were the Scandinavian countries (Meredith 1990). Sex Education in South- Asian countries has never really picked-up. In India, there have been talks of making sex education a mandatory part of the course curriculum but it is a very tough proposition. As per the current state, there are a very few schools (mostly in the urban parts of the country) where sex education is being provided. This dismal state should work as an initiator for the education ministry to make sex education a part of the course so that the students learn about the same from legitimate sources rather that sources which give them incorrect and incomplete information. Instrument: We have used a questionnaire on a Likert scale (5-point scale ranging from strongly isagree to strongly agree) which was used in the study on Validity of a scale to measure teachers attitudes towards sex education (Helena and Gonc, 2006). The questionnaire was used ? on teachers but here we are trying to study the attitude of adolescents towards sex education with the same set of questions. Such a study about attitude towards sex education among adolescents in India is lacking at present and hence we have tried to bridge this gap through our study. Sex Awareness Sex Awareness, literally means the awareness about sex and related issues. The related issues ould range from the bodily effects of sex to the various health concerns that it can cause. Adolescents, in general have various sources to learn about sex. The sources range from school, peers, family to media. In India, peers play a very important role while imparting knowledge about sex to each other. According to some studies, male adolescents gather a major chunk of information about sexuality and reproduction mechanisms from their peers or the media. Yet, there is also willingness in them to learn more about the same topics from other more suitable sources. Another study showed that although the level of knowledge about puberty, menstruation, sex organs, reproduction, contraception, pregnancy, RTIs, HIV were low among young adolescents, older adolescents had better knowledge about the same. According to a particular study which was carried out by the Centre for Population Studies in 2003, more than 90% of the adolescents of the semi-urban areas around Kolkata had awareness about HIV/AIDS, nearly 50% had knowledge about the mechanisms through which the virus is transmitted and most of them were aware of at least one reversible birth control methods. A survey conducted by The NACO National Behavioral Surveillance indicated that 30% of the male adolescents in the age group of 15-19 years had knowledge about how the HIV virus is transmitted. This shows that the knowledge levels are not extremely low among the adolescents in India but still need a considerable amount of improvement. Another reason for the increasing importance to imbibe sex awareness among adolescents is the extremely low national average age of marriage for women in India which currently is 16. 4 years. Instrument: To measure the awareness about sex among adolescents a simple open-ended uestionnaire is used which has been taken up from the paper: “Adolescent Male Reproductive Health: Awareness and Behavior among Peri-Urban and Rural Boys in West Bengal, India (Mohan Das and Ray 2007). ” The answers have been rated on a 5 point scale with 1 for a wrong answer and 5 for the correct answer, so as to measure how well aware one is about sex and related issues. Attitude towards Sex In India, most adolescents are not very comfortable talking about sex with their family, which exhibits the fact that sex is considered a taboo in our country. According to a study done by International Herald Tribune (2006), even talking about sex is considered to be a taboo in wide parts of the country. The attitude of adolescents towards sex has changed over the years. The Family planning Association of India has conducted two surveys among people of the age of 15- 29 years twice in the years 1990 and 1993 in 13 and 16 cities, respectively. In 1990, 67% of all males and 87% of all females surveyed disapproved of sexual relations. Whereas in 1993, survey showed that the proportion had decreased, especially among the males. There are various omponents that affect the attitude of adolescents towards sex. Evidence has shown that adolescents with more liberal attitudes towards sexuality are more likely to experience premarital sex (Rakesh 1992). A study conducted by Mohan Ghule et al (2007) showed that majority of the students of rural college in Maharashtra, India expressed conservative attitudes towards premarital sexuality.
At the same time, a study done by Goparaju (1993) showed that the college students reported liberal attitudes to pre-marital sex. Religious beliefs also play an important role on the attitude towards sex. The negative influence of self-religiosity on attitudes towards sex clearly show that individuals who perceive themselves as more religious display conservative attitudes towards sex. (Rangaiyan 1996) . Another component that affects one s attitude towards ? sex is the kind of social upbringing. Young people living in urban areas have a more liberal attitude towards sexuality and are more likely to engage in pre-marital sexual inter-course as compared to their rural counterparts. (Promote et al. 1987; Orubuloye et al. 1991). Instrument: The questionnaire chosen uses a 5-point likert scale to judge the attitude of dolescents towards sex. The questionnaire was used in the study Attitude Towards Premarital Sex among Rural College Youth in Maharashtra, India (Ghule, Balaiah and Joshi 2007). The questionnaire tests the attitude that both boys and girls have towards sex and if societal obligations and restrictions do play a part on such an attitude. Moderator: Boys and Girls We want to study the mediation affect of gender on the level of sex awareness that adolescents exhibit in India. Numerous studies have shown that the level of sex awareness exhibits variations when the two genders are compared. In different cultures, men and women are governed by different practices, social norms, values, symbols and representations. They are taught to be this way right from their childhood. This influences their expressions of masculinity and femininity. Generally, men are taught to be tough, aggressive, and dominant and risk taking whereas women are taught to be docile and well mannered. Males have been found to be more likely to engage in premarital sex and to have more positive attitudes towards premarital sex than do females (Carrol et al. 1985; Hendrick et al. 1985; Cernada et al. 986; Alexander et al. 1989; Rangaiyan 1996; Abraham 2001). The Indian society has always seen females being imposed restrictions upon. Most parents prefer their daughters going in convent schools (although this notion is taking a change in the past few years), not allowing them to socialize with the other sex and getting them married as soon as they attain reproductive age. The mediation effect between the two genders will validate whether or not the studies regarding the societal restrictions put on women and sex being considered a taboo especially for the females are true. Attitude towards Sex and Sex Awareness Human sexual behavior is instinctive as well as learnt which is why societal values and norms interfere with this behavior. Cultural myths and taboos result in sexual ignorance. (Avasthi A. K. , et al. , 1992). Adolescence, which is a transition between childhood and adulthood, is marked by reproductive development, which is why adolescents need to be aware of the physiological and emotional changes their bodies undergo. However, most adolescents in India lack reproductive health knowledge mostly due to various socio-cultural factors. (Das B. M. et al, 007). This lack of awareness eventually contributes to the spread of STDs such as AIDS (Kumar A. , et al, 1997). Starting from childhood, males and females are socialized by different sets of practices and norms. Boys are expected to be aggressive and tough which automatically drives them to high risk sexual behavior, which poses potential risk for them as well as their sexual partners. (Das B. M. et al, 2007). Such attitudes towards sexuality eventually affect sex awareness, especially among adolescents.
Adolescents in India are either sexually unaware or clouded in myths deep-rooted in Indian culture. Reproductive health needs and sexual urges of adolescents though different from those of adults are poorly understood. (Das B. M. et al, 2007). A society s sexual behavior is controlled by the extent to which social control and self? – restraint is valued by the society. Of late, in India, social and community controls have weakened, giving way to greater individual freedom. This autonomy though available to all classes of men, is limited, in the case of women, only to upper and middle classes to a certain extent. However such social values restraining sexuality have not been replaced by sexual ducation (HIV and AIDS Prevention and Care). This results in unsafe sexual practices, without increasing awareness. (Ambati, B. K. et al, 1997) It just leads to increasing cases of sexual assaults on women and girls, which are conducive to the spread of AIDS in women (HIV and AIDS Prevention and Care). Parents hardly discuss sexual issues with their wards.