By Kiran Galani
Even though sex and reproduction are some of the basic instincts that human beings have, these topics are still considered to be a taboo in many parts of the world, especially when it comes to discussing sex with children and young adults. In a country like India where people still feel awkward using the term “sex”, sex education that is appropriate and addresses all the necessary issues seems like a distant dream. However, now more than ever, there is a dire need to educate children about their own bodies because it is easy to be misdirected by the internet in today’s day.
Sex education around the world
While it is true that there are several countries around the world that are yet to embrace sex education in schools and several more that teach abstinence-only sex education courses if, at all, studies have shown an evident link between countries with good sex education programs and reduced rates of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In fact, Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway that boast of some of the most comprehensive and detailed sex education courses designed for kids between the ages of four to twelve have an STD rate of nearly 33% lower than that of India.
The local approach
While sex education has basically been a non-existent idea in India for a long time, things certainly seem to be getting better. Earlier this year, the Ministries of Human Resource Development, Women and Child Development, and Health Development announced their decision to begin classes on sex education for students of state-run schools in Haryana. The lessons are supposed to include treating sex as a natural desire and not as the equivalent of a disorder, as many of these courses have in the past.
However, often the problem is not simply solved by prescribing the syllabus because many schools tend to skip over the sex-ed part of the health education syllabus simply because the teachers feel far too squirmish to teach it. This is a serious issue since it’s nearly impossible to actually monitor every school’s policies. This problem is often accentuated by the fact that there are many parents who don’t want their children to be taught sex education in schools because they believe it would lead them to engage in promiscuous behaviour.
Media as an educational source?
While this new era of easily accessible information may have its dangers, it certainly has a lot of benefits as well. Making information available to kids often helps them make educated decisions about what’s good for them. A surprising new source of information is turning out to be cartoons and television shows directed towards children. While the Scandinavian sex education programs have long used cartoons to help kids better understand the concepts, mainstream cartoons depicting issues faced by adolescents, especially those of a sexual nature, are slowly increasing in popularity. Netflix’s latest original series, Big Mouth, is a just testament to this fact. Exploring teenage sexuality, the show presents an occasionally cringe-worthy yet humorous and informative perspective on teen and pre-teen sexuality.
Regardless of the form it takes, sex education can play a critical role in any child’s development and help them feel well-adjusted in their own body. It is time to collectively accept the process for the beautifully human phenomenon that it is. Educating future generations on the topic of sex may just be the best step we that can be taken towards this goal.
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