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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Teaching sex education to our children.

In India, there’s a huge debate in the political circles whether to allow sex education in the school system or not. They range from groups that oppose the idea of sex education in schools altogether to those that prefer to talk about sex education without talking about genitals.

Recent news article, which said that more than 50% of women belonging to a particular under privileged community in a certain state in India, didn’t know that it is intercourse that leads to pregnancy. Even in so-called affluent and wealthy societies adults are not very inclined to talk about gender maturity to their children. In 2007, the government of India had released the largest empirical study on ‘Child Abuse’, which states that more then 60% of Indian children under the age of 14 are subjected to some kind of abuse or another. So, many Indian children learn about sexuality and other related issues from friends and close relatives.

This glares the point that our children need to have awareness of gender maturity and sexuality to lead a safer life and to protect them selves. So the question is who should do the teaching? If the government is only going to engage in debates after debates while our children are growing, we have no other choice than to do it by ourselves. Moreover a subject as important and as sensitive as this, why do we have to depend on someone else to do it for our own children?

Try the following:

Start talking to the young children about the differences between girls and boys (you could use any child appropriate terminology to describe the genitals). When your children ask questions such as “why do boys urinate standing and girls don’t”?, make use of such times to explain your thoughts.

Help your children to understand the difference between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. Also teach ‘off limit body parts’ to be touched by the strangers.

When daughter reaches menarche, mother (or person of mother figure) must explain to the daughter what is happening to her and the changes (hair growth, and breast development etc) to be expected. For growing boys, father (or person of father figure) must explain about the changes (hair growth, and hormonal changes etc) to be expected. This must also include hygiene. At this stage, it is also important to open up topics such as pregnancy.

Adolescence is an age when children begin to develop identity of their own (like putting on make up and developing feelings towards other gender) and this is also an age when they begin to drift away from the parents. So for parents to remain engaged in their children’s lives from this stage on they must be more than parents and that is to become their friends.

Bottom line is this: If you’re not willing to talk to your children about these topics, be assured that they will hear from someone and you have no control on who it would be.

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Ruby

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