In a country, where the world’s first ‘guide book’ on sex, the Kama Sutra, was written eons ago, sex education is a big social taboo. Ironically, the ancient book which was an educational medium to allow couples to truly enjoy one another while practising safe sex is highly acclaimed internationally. The funniest aspect is that many ‘informed adults’ strongly believe that educating teenagers about sex can encourage them to experiment. But while ignorance can be bliss, it can be highly detrimental as well; as incomplete or flawed information can lead to devastating consequences. Every teenager goes through hormonal change, and curiosity is a natural progression to any change. Logic dictates that rather than allowing nature (curiosity in this case) to take its own course, these youngsters and teens should be made aware of the repercussions of indulging in unsafe sex. Then why the abhorrence and horrified reluctance to even mention the word sex?
Knowledge and awareness can help the confused youngsters understand their urges, feelings, and their own selves better. Issues like dating, relationships, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and more importantly, respecting one of a different gender or sexual orientation need to be healthily addressed. Unfortunately sex, and any feeling related to it, is such an unmentionable and restricted topic in most households that adolescents who experience and notice changes in their maturing bodies are confused or downright scared. Having never spoken about these issues with their elders earlier, speaking about it suddenly seems quite absurd. Children,who are hesitant to talk about it with their parents, end up discussing it with their peers, from whom they get half-baked information. Sex is not an adult topic; it is not something to be spoken about in hushed tones after marriage. It should not have to be a taboo topic that teens with access to the Internet use and abuse in the wrong way.
In our society, this topic has quite often dominated the headlines in various forms; sexual violence which was once ‘politely’ avoided by mainstream media is now out in the open. It is high time that children are informed about it in a candid and forthright manner rather than them gleaning skewered knowledge from dramatised depictions in crime shows. It is ironical that the entire family enjoy watching an ‘item’ number, but get very nervous and jittery when a health awareness ad about contraception comes on. Vizagites opine.
Sex education is more often thought as a challenge by parents, than an opportunity to sit and discuss with children. Parents shy away from the subject since they lack confidence in themselves. Children of this generation are very vulnerable and are prone to sexual abuse, since Internet is easily accessible, and this younger generation finds it difficult to draw the line when it comes to what to view and what not to view.
Having the right knowledge about sex education from the right source (the parents) can go a long way in developing the right attitude on this sensitive yet most neglected subject. If a parent is unwilling to put their arms around their children and speak, there are many other outsiders who are willing and waiting for such a chance with the wrong attitude.
Vijay Kumar Ratnam,
St. Joseph’s College for Women
Sex education is one of the most important and required topics in any society, especially in India, as it has a conservative outlook. Growing boys are kept in the dark by their parents and they get wrong information from various sources. This can lead to self harm. So it is very necessary that they get the knowledge and awareness of sex through proper channels. Girls on the other hand, are guided to move into their menarche with a pompous celebration in Andhra. But this also leads to many superstitions. It leads to a great announcement of their puberty without the knowledge of handling the dangers she may face consequently. So there should be a gradual introduction to sex education right from childhood, both through school and at home. I have taught in various schools, in one of the schools we had a meeting with the children of grades 4,5, 6 and 7. Unbelievably, students as young as those studying in the fifth grade came out with accounts of how they were sexually abused regularly by their near and dear relatives, friends and neighbours. It was upsetting and shocking that the poor children didn’t know how to deal with such harassment. So until proper sexual awareness is provided to youngsters, these naïve children will feel guilty throughout their lives and that would hamper the growth of their personality. So I think sex education should be an integral part of their education and a good school will surely ensure total guidance for the proper development of their students, and that cannot be without sex education. As a mother I believe parents should be the child’s best friend. The parent should talk to children about ‘good’ touch and ‘bad’ touch. The children should be assured that if somebody does something bad to them, it is not their fault; rather the person who does it is bad and has to be punished. At each level of the child’s growth at home, school and colleges, awareness videos should be carefully selected and shown so that they understand sexual exploitation, types of exploitation and the hazards of such exploitation – physical and mental. Support and trust is very important, and that is also to be provided by the parents as a part of sex education at home.
Former school teacher
India is a country which is partly conventional, flavoured with many religions and beliefs. Each family has its own concoction of values in terms of sex education. Being a teacher and with respect to education, I truly believe that sex education needs to be included in the curriculum for better knowledge of the origin of the human race.
Oakridge International School