‘Sex education teaches us how to have safe sex’. Popular thought, YES. But what part of it this thought process is accurate? None of it.
Sex education is not about teaching children how to have sex. It is about educating pre-teens and teens to help them understand the changes that their bodies will undergo and prepare them for it. And yes, teach them about sex but not with the intention of encouraging them to have sex.
From A Sex Educator Point Of View
We spoke to Sexuality and Parenting Coach Niyatii Shah on how sex education is important today, more than ever, about teenagers and why it is important for them to know their bodies.
SAY: As a sex educator, how have people received you? Students/parents/authorities? Do you still see people considering ‘sex education’ as a taboo?
Niyatii: Even though people are shocked to hear that there are individuals pursuing sex education as a profession, no one has asked me why or how have I chosen it. As a matter of fact people have applauded. They are happy sex is being spoken about and proper guidance is now available for teenagers and pre-teens on the subject so that they know and understand their own sexuality, changes in their bodies as well as the surroundings.
SAY: Can you please elaborate?
Niyatii: Kids today are hungry for information. And there is so much sexual information available out there in the form of media, advertisements etc. Acts like ‘kissing on the lips’ are now being shown in cartoons as a form of expression of affection or love. Children are now being bombarded with sexual messages. This is a major reason why communication between children and parents/adults must be open. Especially about sex and safe sex.
SAY: Can you guide our readers on how parents or adults should go about sharing information with children and to what extent?
Niyatii: Answers to questions regarding kids’ queries should of course be age appropriate. Too much information is as misleading as less, half or no information. Some basic information that must be and can be shared includes topics such as:
- Giving birth: This is among the first questions that adults come across; “where do babies come from?” or “why is my brother/sister in mommy’s tummy”? Parents can tell their little ones about how the baby is kept in a special bag inside the mother’s stomach and how there is a special birth canal through which they come out. Information can be added as the child grows and is ready to absorb more.
- Dressing: Children should be guided on appropriate dressing keeping culture and surrounding in perspective. For example, women should be given the freedom to wear what they want, but also be taught self-defense.
- Consent: Teenagers should be taught how to respect each other, each other’s wishes as well as taught consent. They should be taught ‘right touch and wrong touch’ early on and more information should be given as they grow up.
Parents, schools and educators have equal responsibility towards sexual growth and awareness as they have towards their general growth. And with appropriate guidelines, we can teach our kids to be more responsible, careful yet more open about sex.