Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sex education demystified

I was sharing with an elder about how important sex education is, and to my surprise, she seemed vehemently opposed to it. She felt that when the time came, the children would know automatically. And, that is when I realized that for her and most of you, sex education meant exposing your children to the facts of SEX!! The topic was being narrowly interpreted.

Sexuality and Safety are important parts of our child’s education. In the light of the recent horrifying events at a local school in Bangalore, it is clear that we need to take proactive action to prevent exposing our children to any harm or abuse. Parents play an important part in conveying this information. Not only is ‘prevention of sexual abuse’ information an important part of this discussion but how is this communicated to your child is equally pertinent. Children at different ages understand and process information differently and a professional can guide you to handle this dialogue effectively and with ease.

Sexuality and health sessions for children are the right way forward to orient them to the dangers present around and to equip them with skills needed to protect themselves. Counseling India conducts Sexuality and Safety sessions for children of different age groups. Children are grouped according to their ages and are given this information with the use of audio video aids, power-point presentations, role play and group discussions. The topic details and the depth of information is modulated according to the age of the child. For eg: younger children will be taught about good and bad touch while adolescents will also be oriented to the relationship between sexuality and self-esteem, gender stereotypes etc.

It is important to understand that the act of sex is a culmination and integration of so many different things. Our self-esteem, self-respect, body image, covert messages received from parental relationships, peers and media etc. influences our attitude towards sex. Gender roles, parental control, education, knowledge of anatomy, and understanding of our natural biological urges play a role in sexual health.

Sex education talks about the relationship between physical changes, cognitive development, emotional traits and social tendencies and how these affect our behavior. Sex education also talks about the tight bond between sexuality and self-esteem and how they affect each other. It touches upon the benefits and challenges of growing up. It explores the relationship between your actions, your choices with its inevitable consequences. It tells you about personal safety and your responsibility towards it.

But more importantly, sex education takes away the taboo from talking about sexual topics. It prevents the girl from shying away from talking to her mom/dad about that teacher who was making advances towards her. It gives power to your young child by teaching him to say “Stop, Go away and Tell a trusted adult”, thus decreasing the chances of abuse. It prompts a boy to stop teasing his female classmates by enlightening him about its far- reaching effects on her self-esteem. It promotes a healthy friendship between the opposite sexes that is not biased by gender stereotypes. It encourages your child to be responsible and accountable towards self and others. And, it also talks about sex……………

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