Željka markić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Denis CERIĆ/ ik

Instead of the Internet, schools should have a more important role in the sexual education of young people, prominent Zagreb gynecologist Dubravko Lepusic and Zeljka Markic of the "In the name of the family" association agree as heated debates in the public about the introduction of sexual education in schools continue while young people obtain most information on sexuality on the Internet, from teen magazines and their peers.

The school should provide relevant information on sexuality so that young people do not obtain most of the information on the Internet, as evidenced by a survey conducted by the EduCentar portal, Lepusic and Markic said, when asked for a comment.

However, unlike Lepusic, Markic is strongly against the reviving of "(former Education Minister Zeljko) Jovanovic's sexual education". Young people should obtain information on sexuality and psychology through different school subjects and they should not be approached as persons with sexual experience, Markic believes.

The said survey, covering 560 respondents, shows that only 7% of them have attended sexual education classes and their impression is that those classes "were not useful" to them.

Lepusic, one of the authors of the sexual education curriculum, says that the figures are not surprising. They show that young people are eager for information and they will find what they need. That information is not provided in schools today because "the Sexual Education subject, defined by the previous, SDP-led government, which is really good, is not being taught."

Another problem, Lepusic believes, is the fact that doctors are not involved in the sexual education of young people.

"You cannot expect a math teacher to explain sexuality in detail and answer questions from curious pupils," he says.

It is tragic that at the start of the 21st century young people complain about "incomplete and unsubstantiated information from professionals, who expect their lectures to be fully accepted without discussion" and about "professors who refuse to answer questions about sexuality," says Lepusic.

He believes that these problems have been caused by the promotion of ignorance and non-scientific positions which have become popular in a certain group of citizens and young people. This is a result of the strengthening of conservative, retrograde associations, supported by political structures that share the same worldview, Lepusic says and wonders: "Why do we always have to reinvent the wheel if it is known that sexual education has been taught in schools in Finland for 45 years, in Sweden for about 40 years and in Germany for decades?"

Markic, too, is not surprised that young people look for information on sexuality on the web but underlines that the Internet should not be the only source of information on any field, including sexuality.

Instead of introducing sexual education in schools, Markic believes pupils should be taught about their sexuality through different subjects and that they should not be approached in advance as "sexually active persons."

Most young people aged under 18 do not enter into sexual relationships and imposing a programme that "implies that they already have sexual experience" resembles the advertising of contraceptive devices, she says.

"We want children and young people to be enabled, in the education system, to learn, through different subjects, facts about their body, sexuality, psychology, and emotions so that they can - owing to values transferred to them by their parents, families, friends and teachers - form, in freedom and as they mature, their personals views and goals and accomplish happiness and well-being," says Markic. 

She claims that "the sexual education former SDP minister Zeljko Jovanovic tried to impose on all pupils in Croatia was ideologically influenced, unprofessional and failed to respect a basic principle of psychology - namely that topics related to sexuality are addressed carefully, taking care of the child's or young person's readiness to discuss it publicly."

"Jovanovic's sexual education, called appropriately 're-education' by many makes no mention anywhere of the word 'love' or of the relation between love and sexuality, or how phenomenal an experience it is to be a parent," says Markic.

She says that through sexual education Jovanovic also wanted to impose gender ideology, which, she says, the American Pediatric Society has recently distanced itself from, "showing once again that it is a scientifically unfounded ideology harmful to children and young people. Anyone sensible is against such sexual education."

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