Growing up is a strange phase in our lives. It is a confusing and exciting phase. We realise the essence of our personality and discover several needs of our body. Sex education programs in schools can play a major role in helping us understand our body and increase awareness about safe sex.
As we tried to find out the importance of sex education programs in schools, we got in touch with practicing psychologist and school counsellor at Parikrma Humanity Foundation in Bangalore, Saniya Begum. In a conversation with us, Saniya discussed her views on sex education and how teachers and schools can address it.
1. What is your view about sex education and the way schools in India are addressing it?
Sex education or sexual health is a sensitive and controversial topic. There are a lot misconceptions about issues concerning their bodies, sex, gender, self, and body image. There is also the problem that several forms of sex education are usually not very accurate or informative. Currently, there isn’t a nationwide standard for sex education and many schools in India have not actually commenced sex education because of the misconceptions, myths and the stigma attached to it.
2. Why is it important to include sex education in the school curriculum?
A sex education program should be able to educate and provide youngsters correct information about sex, sexual health, sexuality, and sexual rights in an age-appropriate manner. It can have some beneficial impacts.
Sex education programs help children improve self confidence and be more comfortable with self image.
3. At which age should we introduce children to sex education and what can be the suitable framework?
Sex education should start right from the junior school level as it is important to teach and make them aware since then. The concepts that should be covered include the difference between good touch and bad touch, puberty, gender roles, and menstruation. Children should be made aware of sexual harassment laws, helpline channels, and they should be taught how to handle romantic rejection in a healthy manner.
4. How can the subject be taught to children who are specially abled?
Teaching specially abled children about sex education is a challenging task but it is very important for them to learn. The children can be taught through videos, images, art, activities and narration of stories.
5. How can the topic be introduced to children who come from a conservative family where such discussion is not encouraged?
Youngsters from conservative families can be taught through separate sessions for boys and girls.
Parents, too, should also be included in the conversation through sex education.
Explaining the importance of sex education and helping parents to understand the importance of sex education for their children is one of the crucial aspects of sex education programs. It will also help develop a discussion about about AIDS and the other sexually transmitted diseases.
6. Is it necessary that girls should be made aware of sex at an earlier age than boys?
Absolutely not. Both the genders should be given the same right and should be provided with the same amount of information on sex education.
7. What makes a teacher suitable to teach sex education?
This is an important concern as not all the teachers would be willing to impart the sex education. The teacher must be well-versed in biology, and should keep an honest and spontaneous approach towards sex education. Most importantly, the teacher should be unbiased towards gender and should hold a positive attitude towards teaching the subject.
8. What should be the five significant content of sex education?
There are several factors to be considered for sex education, but the most important is the content being taught. Every sex education program should cover the following topics:
The changing nature of the body
Gender roles and gender differences
Romantic relationships and birth control
Sexually transmitted diseases
9. What are the challenges that schools face the most when it comes to sex education and how do you think can that be fixed?
While imparting knowledge through sex education is important, there are a few factors that might create an obstacle in the process. Some of these include, the students’ approach towards sex education, their unwillingness to learn, constrictions from family, and the whole taboo around sex being a shameful act.
However, these are the very reasons why sex education is so important and why parents and schools should be urged to make sex education a regular class in schools through healthy positive talks, workshops, and seminars.
While sex is an integral part of our lives, it is a subject that is often avoided. The need to discuss sex stems from the concern that the act itself can involve several precautionary measures which, without proper information, a person might not be equipped with. To understand how the lack of sex education can have an adverse impact in a person’ life, read our article on Sex education horror stories.