Sex is a word which we cannot say out loud, the topic which when talked about is often responded with an awkward “Ahem!” or “Shush!” which makes us look around to ensure no one heard us. However, ironically, the very topic that we usually shun is something that men and women should be talking openly about. It is something parents should talk to their children about. What I am talking about here is nothing but sex education.
Is it what you usually watch behind closed doors, under the blanket cover or is it what you read about in books like Mills and Boons and Fifty Shades of Grey? Well, partly but not entirely! Sex education is an education related to the issues of human sexuality, sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control, etc. It is curated to help young people gain information and skills to make healthy and wise decisions about sex and sexuality throughout their lives.
Ours is a country where the apparently obscene act is performed secretly but not talked about openly. And incorporating this in our school education? A huge no! It’s totally out of the question. The result? Young adolescents end up making uninformed decisions on sex, leading to unwanted pregnancy, STIs and STDs, sexual violence and many more.
In the year 2007, when the Ministry of Human Resource Development promoted sex education curriculum, there was a huge controversy, many opponents argued that it would corrupt the young minds and is against the traditional Indian values. Incorporating sex education in school curriculum has always remained a subject of controversy. However, at a time when our country is witnessing an increasing number of sexual violence, abuse and teen pregnancy; sex education is undoubtedly imperative especially for the young school-going children. In April 2018, PM Modi rolled out a role-play and activity-based module on sex education in Bijapur as part of the School Health Programme under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. The programme is imparted in government schools across the country with the help of specially trained teachers and educators. While sex education at school level will play a crucial role in keeping the students informed, educating them at home is also important. According to WHO, sex education ought to be imparted to children of 12 years and above. It further states that “children of 12 to 19 years account for over 30% of HIV infected persons worldwide.”
Considering these figures, the need for sex education in schools is the need of the hour and the best way to provide them is through active participation of both teachers and parents when they talk openly about sex with their children.
Note: this article was first published here.