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Accept That Your Kids Will Soon Learn About Sex; Isn’t It Better If It Comes From You First?

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By Veda Nadendla:

I grew up in New Delhi, the fast-town of Urban India. My parents are from Andhra Pradesh and we stayed in Delhi for 17 years. I studied among equally diverse peers from the naval fraternity and this is where I thought I learnt everything. But I was wrong.

Till the age of 14 I didn’t know about the existence of that particular three letter word. By 16, I’d both heard about and said it out loud a couple of times, only to hear my friends shush me up. I had also read about the reproductive parts in my Biology textbook after skipping school on the day that particular lesson was being taught. I was too embarrassed to sit in a class full of boys while my teacher lectured in a strictly aversive tone about our ‘girl parts’ and ‘boy parts’. I was 18 by the time I knew what sex really is, how it happens and between whom. This, I learnt from an article in the newspaper, not from my friends, not from my teachers, and definitely not from my parents.

sex ed

I still remember my mother, asking me to turn away with one sharp tone every time a kiss scene played on the TV, my dad getting fidgety and my little brother and I being horrified with embarrassment. How many times has that happened to you? Have you ever been told not to use the ‘S’ word? Have you ever heard anyone tell you what sex is really about? I haven’t, and to my misfortune, I learnt from newspapers, books and porn.

Sex happens all around us, you and I were born because of sex, and yet, in our country, we treat it like it’s a taboo. Everyone I know has tip-toed around sex all my life. They call it sex education, but really, sex is smeared with coal, sat on a donkey and paraded around like a criminal who should not be unleashed on our world. Imagine if your parents sat you down and told you, beta, sex happens between two people and it is completely natural. I would bury my face in my backside out of embarrassment, but I know that I would thank them someday.

I used to think that making out could make babies. Only later did I realize the monumental extent of my lack of knowledge. Sex should be talked about more in India. Not just by the media, or on Facebook. Parents need to accept that the country is on a modernization spree and sooner or later, their kid will learn about sex; isn’t it better it came from them first? If you reprimand your kids to act responsibly, give them all the information they need to make those responsible decisions. Only when parents explain what sex really is will a child know the repercussions of engaging in it. It’s a common trend among youngsters to learn about sex from porn, which is a devastating source of knowledge. Porn is around for pleasure, not for facts about sex and definitely not to learn values about the important emotion that it is. Yes, you heard me right, sex is an emotion shared by two people, which could go horribly wrong if not understood properly.

We are thriving in a decade of sexual awakening, when more and more books are being written about people’s sexuality, sexual experimentation is rife in India and people are becoming more open about underage sex and multiple sexual partners. We are transforming into a post-patriarchal society where women are stepping into the limelight and taking life by the horns, and men are respecting that. At this juncture, it is important for us as a collectivistic culture to dump the negativistic attitudes we hold about sexual intercourse. If we are doing it, then so are others around us and eventually our children will too. Let us ensure that we are giving our children all the information they need to be well-rounded individuals.

I have a dream, that one day; textbook printers will be printing a book on sex education and awareness, the day when awareness of sex becomes formal in India. When children don’t have to rely on Game of Thrones and Mills & Boons to learn about the act of intimacy between two individuals. However sex education does not necessarily mean ‘talk about sex’. Sex education refers to holistic view of all the aspects of sexual intercourse, both positive and negative. Parents have the responsibility of teaching their children about important matters like the various body parts, good touch and bad touch, which areas are private and should not be touched, how to respond to a bad touch, to always tell when someone is misbehaving and then finally that no one can force anyone to do anything they don’t want to. Children need to be sensitized from a young age so that they themselves will be vigilant and build an awareness of those around them.

Sex is not just about the act itself; it involves two people and their acceptance to share a moment so personal and special that they are most vulnerable. I understood this only after I experienced it for myself, but it shouldn’t have to be that way. We need to empower those around us to accept and treat sex like doing our morning duty and brushing our teeth. We are wired that way, can we help it? Changing a pattern is difficult but possible; changing a mindset is what has taken our country centuries. Let’s take it one home at a time. Why don’t you start with yours?

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  1. Mehul Sharma

    Thank you ma’am, I sincerely appreciate your point of view. Referring to your statement “sex is an emotion shared by two people, which could go horribly wrong if not understood properly” I’d like to add up to it that PORN is not something to learn from about sex. I’m even against watching all that, and I puke instead. Sex is an emotion, a bond, a moment that is shared between two people that does NOT needs to be viewed by any third pair of eyes. Moreover, porn being the FIRST thing a child watches on this topic is something to be ashamed of, it’s like an open secret. Everyone knows about it but we’re bound to talk about it in front of our elders and labeled as perverted or jerks. Mind you, these being the most decent words a guy is said when he’s not at fault, otherwise there are a hundred more words in our mother tongue that for which I have the decency not to say.
    My question to you Veda ji, is WHAT can be done to solve this problem? You’ve mentioned that children need to learn it from an early age mandatorily by their parents but HOW does a father or a mother confront their child for this thing? I’ve got lots of friends whom I’ve asked “where did you learnt about sex from? ” the replies I got were obvious and astonishing like – friends se, Internet se, live viewing se. Etc. Etc. And I pitied that why do they take it so causally?

  2. Mehul Sharma

    Thank you ma’am, I sincerely appreciate your point of view. Referring to your statement “sex is an emotion shared by two people, which could go horribly wrong if not understood properly” I’d like to add up to it that PORN is not something to learn from about sex. I’m even against watching all that, and I puke instead. Sex is an emotion, a bond, a moment that is shared between two people that does NOT needs to be viewed by any third pair of eyes. Moreover, porn being the FIRST thing a child watches on this topic is something to be ashamed of, it’s like an open secret. Everyone knows about it but we’re bound to talk about it in front of our elders and labeled as perverted or jerks. Mind you, these being the most decent words a guy is said when he’s not at fault, otherwise there are a hundred more words in our mother tongue that for which I have the decency not to say.
    My question to you Veda ji, is WHAT can be done to solve this problem? You’ve mentioned that children need to learn it from their parents but HOW does an Indian patent straightaway confront their child about the same?

    1. Veda Nadendla

      Thank you Mehul for your response to the article. My suggestion would be that Indian schools need to take sex education and harassment awareness sessions for parents of their students. Orientations for parents about good touch and bad touch, about abstinence, about noticing signs of sexual abuse or psychological impact in their children, keeping a track of their child’s activities and being made aware of the different risks their children face. This could be a mere start, school teachers or psychologists could educate the parents on how to broach the subject with their kids to ensure that their child knows to who to come to if in need. It’s important that parents too are encouraged to be aware, because they are the ones their children will model and learn from. In this situation the schools play a very important role.

    2. H

      What should they be taught about abstinence?
      Also in your article you mentioned underage sex, what do you mean by that? I don’t know whether India has a law about the age someone needs to be to have sex but if someone is under that age they should not be having sex. And if an adult has sex with someone under the legal age that’s statutory rape.
      Besides this, I agree with what you’re saying, we desperately need this course here.

    3. Veda Nadendla

      Thank you for your comment H. Abstinence in itself is related to the fact that we should not encourage underage sex. What I have mentioned in the article talks about the fact that the rate at which people under the age of 18 are engaging in sexual intercourse has increased. There is no way of stopping this from happening now, but we do have the power of educating the generations to come to abstain from having sex till they are 18, because their bodies and minds are not ready for the repercussions of sexual intercourse. Especially not when it is all hush hush from the parents, who end up being shocked in acceptance and assistance if anything goes wrong, so they can protect their child.
      To talk about under age sex, in the situation that a major and minor are involved in sexual intercourse, it is not constituted as statutory rape unless the intercourse was without consent of the minor. (Look up Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act, 2012)

    4. ANUVA

      I have read all the comments.I would say that we had a special orientation program in our school on that topic .And in about class 10th(in ICSE) we studied about female and male reproductive parts and then was the time I myself I took the initiative to talk about this to her in a very decent way and she also answered my questions in a positive way.I think that a healthy debate can work wonders which I have also tried on the topic of love marriage.

    5. Veda Nadendla

      Hi there Anuva! Firstly, thank you for doing what you did. It is very important to open conversation about matters such as these. Nice work!

  3. Kritie Sood

    This is a very good article. Thank you for writing it. Talking about sex should not be a taboo.

  4. Gaurav

    nice article, well done. you have summed up the situation in india pretty well. the biggest problem is that young people want to change this situation but if i ask any young man and woman what exactly do they want to change they will come up with some incoherent babble about something. with half baked ideas and some audacity all the youth can manage is to make noise not make any change. all this platitude is not going to change your parents or the fact that india may want change or need change but it is not happening. changes do not come when young men and women write articles talking about parents. the first thing that should be done is stop fooling around and accept the ground reality. sex is taboo. talking about is also taboo. period. now all those who want to make a change. take a piece of paper and a pen and write down what you really want and find ways to achieve that. beyond that all this platitude will not take you anywhere. enjoy your life guys

    1. Veda Nadendla

      Thank you for your comment Gaurav! Unfortunately the half baked Ideas are because none of us really know what will work and what will not. On this subject, it’s a matter of better judgement and trial. It’s important that the next time you hear this incoherent babble you mentioned, make it a point to correct or encourage a healthier notion or a more solid notion of change. Keep asking questions till they find the answer. As people who understand what we want to change about the system it is important that we encourage those who have the fire but need a push in the right direction. Cheers!

  5. tik s

    Yes, sex is a taboo in our country and people do have negativistic attitude towards it. But saying, ‘treat sex like doing our morning duty and brushing our teeth’, aren’t you going too further? Everything that happens in western countries isn’t right.

    1. Veda Nadendla

      Thank you for your comment. I am saying treat sex like it is something that occurs as a part of our lives and our natural system. I am not saying engage in sex like it occurs every morning. Acceptance of sex is what I was leaning toward.

  6. Ra’s al Ghul

    Sex being a taboo and people learning about sex from a newspaper, magazine, or porn are two different things. Secondly, what harm did it cause you to learn about it from a newspaper? In this day and age, everyone has access to the internet, and even ten year olds know that it happens when a man and a woman copulate, and who does not know about STDs and condoms? Can you tell me about the “harms” about people not learning about it from their parents, since you have not mentioned them in your article. You talked about how it is “better” if it comes from parents in your title and then continuously beat around the bush about how it should not be taboo to talk about it.

    1. Veda Nadendla

      The harm is in the fact that parents themselves are unsure about how to broach the subject and end up being shush about it wherein we learn from external sources which may not always be the most informative or ethical. Newspapers and magazines portray sex openly, the way I have written this article. The harm is not in the fact that the article has been written or read by a child, the harm is in the way it might be perceived by a young, vulnerable, explorative and sensitive mind. Children who learn about sex from external sources other than their parents may be curious and not always develop a mature perspective toward it, and we all know what the repercussions of irresponsible sex will be. I have very much mentioned how it is important that children learn from the people who gave them life because then it encourages openness about sex, responsible decisions, more so, informed decisions on the child’s end when indulging in sexual activity.
      The point i drive home is that the source of understanding of a sensitive topic such as sex should be parents because the child should be able to talk their parents if anything went wrong. Talking about sex being a taboo subject, it is fact and it is time we as a country changed that. Modifying the way people perceive sex will modify the way people react to it and engage in it. My friend, you seem to be forgetting about the fact that 68.84% (Census 2011) of our population lives in rural areas, whose literacy rates still below those of the urban population. Where can the children living in these rural areas access the internet? These children are influenced by other media such as pictures in local newspapers, television channels and definitely movies. Look at what’s happening in the towns and villages of Uttar Pradesh. It horrifies me to even think of how women are surviving there. Everyday there is one rape being reported. That my friend is definitely an unhealthy image of sex right there.

      If I were to go on, this would become much longer than intended. I would urge you to read my next article on the subject. Thank you.

  7. Green Lantern

    Ma’am, are you sure it is going to be harmful if they don’t learn about it from their parents?

    1. Veda Nadendla

      I am very sure of that, and also of the fact that parents themselves are unsure of how to broach the subject, and attach stigma to sex which leads them to avoid talking about it. For more, Please refer to my comment below sir! Thank you.

    2. Green Lantern

      Ma’am, sex is a private thing only to be discussed between husband and wife. What harm did it cause you and me, and countless other people to learn about it from a book or a newspaper? Do you know that there are many people suffering from STDs, are porn addicts, and rapists who learnt about sex from their parents? What awareness would you like to be built in children when everyone toady knows about STDs and AIDS, and yet they get infected because they are overcome by lust, because girls in western countries are walk around semi-nude, and this is catching up in India. Everyone today knows that they should use condoms, but do they? Sex education is very common in western countries, and yet they have a lot of problems related to sex, such as STDs, AIDS, teen pregnancies, etc. Furthermore, premarital sex, having multiple sexual partners, and having a mistress is common in the west – do they not know that this can and does result in STDs and illegitimate children?

    3. Suroraj Sen

      Please tell me you’re a troll. Please. I shudder for our country if you’re serious.

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