A debate triggered of today… and the topic was endless as it dealt with sex education to growing kids. Yup! Tell me who decides what is best for kids – the parents or the norms of the society!
Many a different opinions and many a different views… Some said the kids should learn all by themselves… Some said they may use internet and books to identify and learn from there… Some were of the view that the parents should teach the kids at the right age.
So … what is the right age and how much education is essential? I believe many schools have started sex education in their syllabus but I am yet to come across that. But Netherlands and Korean societies are certainly protecting children through education and telling them how to respect themselves and their classmates from the opposite sex.
Let’s thus discuss what is to be done when kids become inquisitive at a younger age? How much should be told to them at that point? I believe many a questions must have been thrown by them while watching television together – be it advertisements or operas.
It is however sad that sex is still a taboo… But who does not talk about it behind closed doors! If we do not educate our kids, then who will?
Is it ok to leave them to try and figure it out themselves!!! If we catch them by chance surfing the net, is it a crime that they may be accused of? And if we stop them as we all tend to do and think that it is the right thing to do, then won’t they be doing it behind our back!!!
I do believe that talking to kids about sex education is pretty alright. If they are guided well in their formative years then may be we can make it a little easier for them. And to quite some extent save them from child abuse. In case they are aware of what happens and why, then maybe… they can handle abusive situations with confidence. Majority abuse happens as the innocent children are not aware of their own body and how they’re being abused.
To take the issue before you, I talked to a cross-section of people, conducting a survey and here’s what they said.
“Sex education for children is very important. It’s better … they get to know about it first from someone trusted rather than those sources which may not be good for them,” said Surabhi Narang, a teenager. Ayoob Khan, actor and father of two, echoed her views: “To educate one’s child should be the primary motive of every parent. May it be general education, cultural education or sex education. There should be no disparity while imparting knowledge.”
According to Ayoob, knowledge is power and in today’s world where life is so exposed, one should take this issue as seriously as something like inoculations. “As you arm your child with education to deal with the world, I see no reason not to educate your child on this issue, which is paramount to the child’s well being and future good health. Only closed minds put a stigma to any knowledge to this aspect- that being sex education.”
Weren’t we all born naked! Isn’t it that the primitive people moved quite naturally without any clothes on! How well we discuss Adam and Eve when we dwell upon the theory of human origin! To this, Nausheen Ali Sardar said, “Yes, it’s a natural process.”
She said: “Sex education has been important since I remember I was in school – but nowadays there is a lot of awareness due to media – what’s important is parents should not make the children feel awkward or ashamed of their sexuality… they should know that whatever is happening its a natural process. That’s why it is important that at least one parent is more of a friend to the child.”
Neeraj Sawhney, a father of two grown-up boys, not only advocated preparing children at home but also at schools with the help of civil societies. “Sex education is very important in today’s time because our kids should be fully aware of what’s right and wrong for them.”
He said kids are usually shy in sharing their problems with parents and most of the parents are also not comfortable in discussing these issues with their children. “So if the kids are given sex education in schools, it will be of great help to them. Schools should take the help of NGOs also to carry workshops on sex education in case they are not well equipped. Such workshops will help our kids a lot and they can ask all sort of questions.”
Still a teenager, Abhas Wanchu felt the more we know about something, the easier is to face them – “I think sex education is important because the kids should know the consequences of unsafe sex and how to handle them.”
“You can’t stop someone from making the decisions they will, but you can let them know what might happen if they make a bad decision,” he said.
Jewellery designer and a mother of two – a boy and a girl, Rupali Gupta too backed the idea of preparing our children well in advance, saying they should not be allowed to be surrounded by myths when there are looming dangers. “It is very important that the kids be sensitized to the topic of sex and dispel the myths that surround it. It is even more important that they be educated on its abuse and dangers. They are bombarded with all kinds of written and visual references and not answering their queries in the correct manner can only lead to maladjustment.”
“Sex education is no doubt very necessary for today’s generation. It teaches our children about sexual intimacy, and also enlightens them on their reproductive systems, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases. It also exposes them to their gender identity, gender role, family role, body images, sexual expression (what it entails and how to tame it), intimacy and the marriage relationship,” she said.
True, it is really unfair and even criminal to ignore or push aside such facts. Sex education should naturally be integrated into the lives of the children, at least considering the society we have made of ourselves. Parents should answer their children’s questions properly and provide information according to their level of exposure and maturity.
“We might be fooling ourselves and exposing these children to untimely dangerous curiosity. The children must be taught how to cope and handle their own sexual feelings, use of drugs and urges. Prior to the time of sex education, parents should develop good communication with their children,” says Neha Bahadur, a mother of two growing boys.
On the importance of sex education, Vikas Khanna, a father of two teenagers, had a word of caution too. “Sex education is very important and must be taught in their limits. Actually, you have to be very clear and teach really well, so that they don’t misuse the advise,” he said, adding, “Things have to be discussed very clearly so that the youngsters pick up the true purpose and meaning while learning.”
“It is a known fact that with the advancement of science and technology, the present generation of kids are well aware of the developments on and around them. Further, with the availability of internet they are well informed on various subjects and have access to the data and the material available on the website on any given topic,” said Shyam Sharda, a concerned parent of two children.
“However,” he said, “Sex education is one such topic on which the parent/teacher/guardian must take efforts in guiding and educating the child. As the child grows, there are bound to be many doubts in his/her mind on the subject. The child would also be very hesitant/cautious in discussing the matter openly with anyone. As such it is even more important that the growing kid is properly guided, and all the doubts/queries are properly addressed. For this it is advised that the present curriculum of the students beyond certain age provide systematic knowledge on sex. In the absence of the same, the child is likely to get confused and misled, thereby hampering his/her growth.”
Kanishta Krishan, a mother of two, even went a step ahead demanding that the children be told about the contraceptives and safety, saying “the such exercise is a must in the modern society,” a view echoed by Samir Sahni.
“In this fast changing time – biologically and socially, we as parents need to educate our children not only through their text books but apart from that we also need to educate them about their hormonal changes because of which they feel uncomfortable during their biological growth. Not just that we have to keep our eyes open towards sexual harassment cases against children. By making the child aware of his own self we can keep check on that. In today’s rushing schedules we cannot be with them all the time. So telling them what is right or wrong in sexual aspect through correct source as parents is important to give them not just healthy but also a safe life,” said Samir.
Stating that parents hesitate to teach their kids accordingly, Manu Pamnani said the proper sex education must start the right age. “Most children notice every bit of happenings around them – emotions, reactions, love or expression of hatred & physical intimacy of the members in the family. Besides we love educating them but we do normally feel hesitant to give sex education at the right ideal age, which today is around 10 to 11 years. Unfortunately in India, the sex education in school starts around 14 years. Even puberty which used to start at 13 or 14 , today it is experienced by parents, for their kids, starting at 11 years or earlier too in some cases. Constructive and the much needed sex education has to come or start from the parents to the child,” he said.
A manager with a book publishing house and a mother of 5-year-old boy, Gitanjali Kaul said, “In today’s age of information overload, its of utmost importance to educate a child on sex and related matters. You revel in teaching your baby – yourself – the correct way to walk… the correct way to talk, ask, dress, behave… So, wouldn’t you rather teach your kid what is correct than have him or her log onto various websites and absorb all the info there – even things that are considered abnormal? Let’s face it, the world has its share of things, people and places that are rotten, filthy and downright horrid. How can a parent even think of leaving their little ones alone to battle out all this without a guiding hand?”
Joining the debate, Dana Stauder favoured letting a child grow as a healthy individual, for which she said the such education should be part of personality development. “I think it is very important for the kids to learn what’s right and what’s wrong… let’s start teaching them from very young age that nobody should touch them in private places ever, nobody should abuse their innocence. Yes I agree that though my son felt extremely shy during those lessons at the school, I still think that it will help the kids to grow up into a healthy individual,” she said.
To all this, Shipra Tiwari, a child counselor, added that “We, as alert parents, need to prepare ‘alert children’.” Recounting her experience also as a teacher to the pre-schooling tots, she said, “I have been dealing with students for quite a long time and have found a kind of similarity among them all. They are curious and always ready to research, explore and discover. They keep inquiring about the things they are not clear with. I have even met those little masters who develop a sense about sexual matters at the innocent age of four or five. Imparting sex education, thus, is very important and identifying own individuality is the first step towards it.”
Now the question is – How many parents actually follow what they preach!