Sex education means the introduction of concept regarding sexual reproduction and sexual feelings. It is a systematic study of the gradual development of body, sexuality and relationships in school. It aims to help young people to communicate and make the correct decision regarding sex and their sexual health.
Our schools teach our children everything they need to know to succeed — right? Intensive classes, exams to help them get into the best universities in India and abroad and even extra out-of-school tuition so they can compete with their global peers. What is the need to teach our kids’ sex education? If anything, it will distract them from their studies and put wrong ideas in their heads.
Well, when we watch our children, what we see is a safe, simple world — our kids go to school, study and do their extracurricular activities. In reality, there is a lot of turmoil going on inside the adolescent mind.
Take an average adolescent girl in India — she gets little information on her menstrual cycle so feels confused and embarrassed every month on her period, regularly gets harassed on the street and then goes to school and does not know if it’s ok or not ok to talk to the boy she likes in class. If she faces some sort of sexual abuse from her teacher, she’s scared that she will get blamed if she speaks up — and she does not even have the words to say what has happened to her.
It’s a similar situation for the average adolescent boy. Also, he is usually consuming a lot of pornography, shaping his perceptions about girls and women. Adolescents these days are battling deep insecurities, facing challenging social situations with no easy answers and getting a flood of vulgar, sexist and misleading information from the media which is usually their only source of information about how to interact with the world. All of these factors are having a strong effect on our kids and shaping them into the adults; they will be in the future.
How do we combat this to create young adults who are confident in who they are, understand how to interact with each other in healthy and respectful ways and are staying safe? It’s hard to have these conversations with kids because we do not know exactly what they are facing or what to say to them.
Contrary to what people think, that is exactly what sex education is. It is not about teaching children how to have sex — it is about informing them about what is happening in their bodies and also teaching them to make safe, healthy choices as they grow up. It is also about helping them understand that the messages they are getting from Bollywood or pornography are not realistic and can be harmful. Instead, it is about helping them come to their conclusions about what it means to be a successful, interesting boy or girl.
In this era, rapes are increasing daily. One of the reasons for it can be a lack of sex education. In India, we are not getting sex education as awkwardness and ignorance from parents as well as from school. Information regarding sex, pregnancy and contraception should be provided to children and adolescents in an age-appropriate manner from parents and schools. For children, it is necessary to understand the difference between good touch and bad touch.
Sex education is a complex topic, so it has to be handled with care. And in this process schools can play a very vital role. Teens go to school to get an education and school is a huge factor in growing their mindset and shaping their future. So, if they get to know about sex education from their growing stage, the whole scenario of rape in India can change as they will know what is wrong and what is right.
Also, the family atmosphere is very important as children adopt many things from their homes. Parents have to listen to them and make them understand what it is and why they required it. Parents have to look after their child’s life and what they are facing. Also having healthy talks with them and making them understand is important. Schools can have a special sex educator and conducting seminars can create a huge change.
The paediatrician should encourage early parental discussion with children at home about sexuality, contraception and Internet and social media use that is consistent with the child’s and family’s attitudes, values, beliefs and circumstances.
Diverse family circumstances, such as families with same-sex parents or children who are identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning. Create unique guidance needs regarding sexuality education.
Modelling ways to initiate talks about sexuality with children at pertinent opportunities, such as the birth of a sibling, can encourage parents to answer children’s questions fully and accurately. Parents and adolescents are encouraged to receive information from multiple sources, including health care providers and sexuality educators, about circumstances that are associated with earlier sexual activity.
Adolescents are encouraged to feel empowered through discussing strategies that allow for practising social skills, assertiveness, control, and rejection of unwanted sexual advances and cessation of sexual activity when the partner does not have consent.
Discussions regarding healthy relationships and intimate partner violence can be effectively included in health care visits. Paediatricians are encouraged to acknowledge that sexual activity may be pleasurable but also must be engaged in responsibly.
Specific components of sexuality education offered in schools, religious institutions, parent organisations, and other community agencies vary based on many factors. The paediatrician can serve as a resource to each.
Age 2–5: in this age group parents can do like telling them about bad touch and good touch. Saying like this is not good and awarding them.
Age 6–8: You as a parent should discuss with your child how to use a digital world. Also, make them aware of the pornography world so that they don’t misunderstand anything.
Age 8–12: Children often worry whether they’re “normal” — particularly when it comes to penis size and breast size. Explain what happens during puberty for both boys and girls.
Teenage: If you’ve established yourself as open to discussing those topics, “your kids are probably going to feel more comfortable talking to you and asking you questions”, says Thornhill. At this age, you should start interacting more with your child so that they can be on a good path with the help of sex education.
Offer reassurance that children of the same age mature at different rates. Puberty might begin years earlier — or later for some children, but eventually, everyone catches up. You might want to share experiences from your development, particularly if you once had the same concerns that your child has now.
Each thing has its pros and cons. Similarly, sex education also has both. Let us look into it.
“Helping kids understand that they have a gut, an inner voice, and they can and should listen to it, is a big part of what sex education is about.” – Cory Silverberg.
At the right time and in the right way, sex education can be very helpful. It is necessary to keep a healthy conversation between parent and child. Also, schools have a vital role, as well. Sex Education is as necessary as education and morals for a better future.