Sex Education is defined as subject that facilitates the understanding and practicality of sexual health throughout the life. It builds the foundation for the attitude, beliefs, and perspective towards someone’s physical appearance, based on the gender and sexual preference of that person.
NEED OF SEX EDUCATION
Sex Education is very important for everyone for a better lifestyle and improved mental perspective towards gender and sexuality. Sex Education gives the person a broader mindset to think and value the sexuality of a person and it emphasizes more on sensitivity towards one’s choice of sexuality and their reproductive growth. Sex Education is a very important subject to be added in the curriculum of the schools. Adding it to a curriculum will make the students more aware of their sexual health and reproductive growth. According to a survey, India has the largest adolescent population (243 million with more than 50% of the adolescent population living in urban areas). This large population of adolescents can’t be left alone to seek the answers to their queries, relating to their sexual health or the reproductive growth of the person. There must be a proper way to let the children know about their reproductive growth and sexual health. This is why the Sex Education is important in the developing countries like India.
In a study conducted by the Indian Ministry of Women and Children Development and carried out by UNICEF and Prayas, a non-governmental organization where they interviewed 12,247 children and 2324 young adults in 13 Indian states. The study revealed that 53% of children between the ages of 5 and 12 have been sexually abused. And majority of the abuse was perpetrated by their parents, relatives, guardians or close members of the family. Further, the study perturbingly notes that more than half of all these cases of sexual abuse and rape go unreported.
ROLE OF PARENTS IN SEX EDUCATION
Parents have a very important role in framing the mindset of the children. Children learn at home. What he/she watches, what he/she listen makes a strong impact on their behavior and attitude towards someone. Parents teach the children to walk, to behave, to speak thereby making parents responsible for the frame of mind of the children. Parents should be the first to develop the outlook of the child towards sexual health and reproductive growth.
What to do?
- Parents have to condition their children more friendly and confortable with them, so that they can talk to them freely and discuss something with them without hesitation.
- Parents must keep their children aware about their bodily changes and also to make them aware about the bad touch and good touch in the primary age so that they can develop a sense of safety. The feeling of sensitivity towards the sexual preferences and sexual growth of someone else must be developed in the mind of the child.
- Parents should not discourage the child if he/she asks something about reproductive growth or matters relating to sexual health.
- Parents should not propagate myths of the sexual health or reproductive growth and for this, the parent also need to learn about this, so that they can teach well to their child.
- If your child tells you about an incident he/she has seen or done by him/her or by one of his/her friend, regarding sexual offence there is a duty of that parent not to remain silent about it and inform about the same to local police. Any parent or person who has apprehension that an offence is likely to commit or knowledge of commission of such offence, is compulsorily required to report such offence to the Special Juvenile Police Unit or to the local police under the POCSO Act. Failure to report such offence has a punishment by way of imprisonment and/or fine under Section 21 of POCSO Act.
This is not about one time conversation, it is a continuous process which should be taken up by the parents, from time to time. Usually there is a peer pressure on the child, so it is the duty of the parent to draw a strict line between the rules of the family and things child learns from their peers. In India, if the child commits any wrongful act parents don’t report it because of their love towards the child or sometimes because of their reputation in the society. Parents should not hide the mistakes or wrongful acts of the child just for the sake of reputation of the family or because of the society.
ROLE OF SCHOOLS IN SEX EDUCATION
The role of school comes after the parents. The term ‘sex’ and ‘sexuality’ still creates a taboo within the school premises and in the authority. The school will push on the conversation which is started by the parents at home. Schools can enforce the study of sexual health or reproductive growth only if the parents are in favor of the same. It is the responsibility of the school to create a safe space for the students to talk freely about their queries or confusions about the sexual growth. In 2007 the government of India initiated ‘Adolescent Education Program’ (AEP) in collaboration with the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). According to Ministry of human resource development, this was an important initiative that seeks to ‘empower young people with accurate, age appropriate and culturally relevant information, promote healthy attitudes and develop skills to enable them to respond to real life situations in positive ways’.
What to do?
- It is also the school’s duty to provide adequate training to the teachers and to make them understand that open discussion of sexual health is not a taboo.
- The teachers must be in a position to be able to address the queries of the students, how to tackle various situations and ensure the students comfort while engaging in such conversations.
- They must encourage the questions of the students relating to such matters.
In India, some parents are not educated enough to teach their child about sexual health or about different sexual preferences. So, the responsibility is passed on to educational institutes like schools, to teach children about the same. In recent times, shocking incidents revealing certain acts by children, like that of “Boys locker Room” or news of assault or molestation or rape on students are indications that point towards why sex education in schools is the need of the hour.
CULTURAL/SOCIAL BARRIER IN SEX EDUCATION
- There exist many barriers in India for Sex Education. There is a belief that if child learn about sexual health in early age they will be encouraged to take part in sexual activities at an early age. They believe that this is not a subject to be taught by someone as, according to them ‘children will learn about sexual health and reproduction at later stage by themselves’.
- According to the Indian society, the misconception is that sex education includes only topics that cover the act of sexual intercourse. More often than not, people hesitate to use words like ‘SEX’ or ‘VAGINA’ and these are not the words to be said in public sphere. Conversation on it or treating it as a subject in the curriculum is still a far way. Watching pornography is a bad thing and the person is judged.
- According to the Indian culture, pubescent girls are not allowed to enter into kitchens or in temples. Girls still hesitate to buy sanitary napkins in public. Sanitary napkins are still given wrapped in the newspaper or black polythene so that no one can see that.
- There also exists a difference in the sexual growth of girls and boys which is natural. During the age of adolescence, girls are instructed to sit properly, to walk properly, to wear clothes of loose size and boys are instructed to not to masturbate etc.
In the Indian society, there are still some gaps which are to be covered to add Sex Education as a subject in the Curriculum. This should not be just a topic to study but it should be interactive life practice skill. After the New Education Policy (NEP) released by the Union Human Resource Development minister Ramesh Pokhariyal, the addition of Sex Education into the curriculum of education system is needful. But the addition would be insufficient without the effective implementation and answerability of school and other educational authority towards the ministry. Schools must train the teachers about this subject so that they can teach it to their students. Parents must make their home safe and confortable space for such conversations. Most importantly, children have to be friendly and corporative with the family and teachers to make this more effective. Because of reluctance on the part of the students to talk about this with their parents is still a drawback. There should be a three way communication and not just one-way. Sex education is prevalent in the Indian schools, yet there exists a scope for better implementation of the same.
“The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children”.
This blog is written by Sampada Sharma, Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies.
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