SEX EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN

SEX EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN

INTRODUCTION

 

Sex, and everything around it, is a very sensitive issue, and discussions that pertain to ‘it’ used to be held only among the elderly. It used to be a no -go area for teenagers and young adults, unless they did that in their closet.

And for children, the word, sex, was something they should never hear about. And when, out of curiosity, they mistakenly asked questions about childbirth, conception, genitals and sex, parents, older siblings and every elderly person around would jointly scold and shout them down for daring to utter such ‘sacred’ words.

But in modern times, where children, especially young girls, have become somewhat endangered species, given the instances and rising cases of child molestation, teaching children about sex, known as sex education, has become a must for parents.

The American Academy of Paediatrics once pointed out that right from infancy, children start having consciousness about their body, including touching their genitals when naked, which is a product of curiosity and not for sexual activities. Thus, when such children ask questions about such topics, parents are advised to answer them constructively, without saying too much.

According to AAP, sex education involves teaching about human sexuality, including intimate relationships, human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexually transmitted infections, sexual activity, consent, sexual orientation, abstinence, contraception and reproductive rights and responsibilities.

It added that developmentally appropriate and evidence -based education by paediatricians, schools, other professionals and parents are important to help children and adolescents make informed, positive and safe choices about healthy relationships, responsible sexual activity and their reproductive health, as such education could prevent and reduce the risks of pregnancy, HIV and STIs.

However, there are certain things parents should put in mind when taking their children on sex education, starting with the right age to start.

A consultant paediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Elizabeth Oyenusi, said parents should begin sexual education for their children as early as possible. She explained that two to three years is an ideal time for such, given that it’s about the age children start going out, whether to school or elsewhere. “Hence, parents should teach them the names of all their body parts and what is not appropriate. It is also that period parents should tell them where they should not be touched by anyone and that if such happens, they should report to them.”

She stated further that educating them at that tender age had become necessary given the things they could be exposed to on the television and other platforms.

Oyenusi added that while children should have known about those basic things at a tender age, when they grow older, like eight years old, parents should be more “explicit” about it.

She said it is more so as it is about that age when girls begin to develop breasts, which could make people, especially men, find them attractive.

She said, “Whether for a male or female child, once they clock eight years, parents should talk to them about sex, and there is no need to use nicknames or graphics, more so that such children are exposed to different images on the television or even the Internet. A girl is ready for such education when her breasts begin to come out or when she clocks eight.”

Asked to talk about the best approach to begin educating children about sex, she said, “There is no hard -and -fast rule on how to go about it, because some children ask questions while some don ’t ask. For those who ask, parents should answer them, and for those who don’t ask, such discussions could be initiated by introducing them to certain terms, and no need for nicknames. Parents could also ask what they know already so as to where to take it from.”

Given that children don’ t spends all their time at home, especially those who have resumed school, coupled with some arguments that parents and teachers have distinct roles to play, Oyenusi emphasised that parents have a major role to play because they are the first to know the child and that the role played by teachers could only be complementary.

“Parents need to first equip their children with the basic knowledge, and whatever the teachers do will only complement what they had been taught already. And it will not be premature to talk to them about sexually transmitted diseases and infections, being a possible repercussion of sex.”

Another consultant paediatrician, Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, said the cost of not teaching children about sex at an early age could be too much to bear in the future , because they tend to learn wrong things and from wrong persons.

He said, “The implication is that when they leave their parents, maybe for school, other people would tell them the wrong things and they tend to fall for it because they had not been taught about what is right or wrong.

He stressed that sex education is not just about teaching children about sex and the need to abstain from it at that level, it also involves teaching them gradually about the organs and their functions.

He said, “A child that has not been told by the parents at an early age that homosexuality or lesbianism is bad may not know that being touched in certain places by someone of the same sex is wrong, not to talk of someone of the opposite sex.

“But if the parents have taught them that people of same sex don ’t got close, they would know and it would be registered in their brain. So, if anybody makes such move, they would either run or raise the alarm. That is why parents need to teach them at home, so they are not taught the wrong things outside.

“It is not uncommon for a young girl to be deceived that sex could put an end to painful menstruation. For such a girl, she could be taken advantage of easily, thinking that would put an end to her pains. But if she had been taught that sex doesn’t end menstrual pain, she won’t be deceived and that would help her to be wary of any man who tells her such.”

He explained further that, on the average, girls from the age of 10 or 11 enter the menstrual period, signifying the beginning of puberty. He said the mother should start telling them about maturity, the changes they should expect in their body, like the breasts shooting out and seeing blood in their private parts, because their first menstruation would come unannounced.

“At that point, parents should tell them to distance themselves from anything that could make them to unzip or remove their pants,” he added.

Speaking on the right age children should be taught about sex, Adesanya said that given the early exposure children now have to ICT, whereby information can no longer be hidden, parents could initiate sex education as soon as a child could read, and the sex education should begin at a level the child can understand.

He added, “Parents need to simplify it; mention the parts of the body that should not be touched. There is a song that explains that there are some parts of the body that should not be touched. Parents can go as far as singing such with them and identifying those areas. There are some basic simplified books by educationists to make it easier and simplified.

“Children should be taught the basic things, like the fact that boys and girls are made differently by God. As simple as it is, while in preschool, girls should be told that there should be no hugging. Nobody should hug them. If anybody insists, they should tell such persons that their mum normally hugs them and that is enough for them. Children should be taught to raise the alarm or shout if there is anything untoward.

“They should be taught the body parts and the functions of each and why they shouldn’t attempt anything like sex. Parents should not refer to genitals as ‘thing’, they should use the real name of the organ. Let them know that it is an area that should not be touched until after marriage. They should be taught that it is wrong for a male putting hands in a female’s chest or back pockets.”

He added that as children grow older, especially when they are in mid -primary or towards entering secondary school, the education needs to advance, like telling male children not to touch the breast (or chest region) or the private part of a lady and telling females not to touch or hit a boy around the genital area.

Adesanya averred that if parents don’t teach their children about “these things”, they (children) could come across such on the Internet or learn it from outsiders and they could end up being misinformed

PERSONAL BOUNDARIES AND SAFETY:

Teaching your child about bodies and personal boundaries is just like teaching your child any other skill. You need to be consistent and give your child plenty of opportunities to practise.

GOOD TOUCH AND BAD TOUCH

You can also teach your child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) some basic personal safety skills that are appropriate for her age. This includes knowing the difference between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’.

Behaviour can be either good or bad depending on the situation. For example, your child’s doctor might need to check all of your child’s body parts, not just the public ones. Another example is hugs. A hug from a classmate is OK, but a hug from a stranger is not.

You might make a general rule that a bigger or older person shouldn’t touch a child’s private parts unless it’s to keep them clean – for example, washing them in the bath – or healthy – for example, a doctor checking a child.

Visual supports can be helpful for explaining these differences. For example, you could use a picture of a hug from a friend with a green tick, versus a picture of a hug from a stranger with a red cross. Clear photographs of appropriate behaviour and touching can also be helpful.

 

 UNWANTED TOUCH

 

Some children with ASD don’t like physical contact, and that’s OK.

Along with good and bad touch, you can also teach your child about unwanted touch. For example, if your child doesn’t want a hug from a relative, he can learn polite ways to say no. These might include just saying ‘No thank you’, holding his hand out to shake instead, or holding his hand up for a high-five.

If you’re worried about offending family and friends, let them know that you’re teaching your child basic safety skills about her body, including what to do about unwanted touch.

Circle of friends

The circle of friends’ activity can help children understand their own and other people’s personal boundaries and safety.

In this activity, you draw your child in the centre with circles around him. Family are closest, and strangers furthest away. Here’s how to talk about the circles with your child:

Family: these are the people who live at home with me.

Extended family: these are the people who are my family but don’t live in my home with me – for example, my grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and cousins.

Friends: a friend is someone I know very well. My friends care about me and I care about them too. I trust my friends and they trust me.

Acquaintances: there’s a difference between an acquaintance and a friend. An acquaintance is someone whose name I know and who I see every now and then. I feel comfortable around acquaintances. An acquaintance might be a friend of a family member.

Teachers: these are the people who stand in front of the class at school and teach me things.

Helpers: these are the people who help with things – for example, a sports coach at a club.

Servers: these are the people who work in shops, cafes, restaurants or clothing stores. It is their job to serve customers like me.

Strangers: a stranger is someone I don’t know. I don’t know a stranger’s name.

You can talk with your child about who falls into each circle. What sort of behaviour might be OK in each circle? For example, which people would it be OK to kiss or hug?

 

Questions and Answers About Sex

 

Answering their kids' questions about sex is a responsibility that many parents dread. Otherwise confident moms and dads often feel tongue-tied and awkward when it comes to talking about puberty and where babies come from.

But the subject shouldn't be avoided. Parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex if they answer kids' questions in an age-appropriate way.

When should parents sit kids down for that all-important "birds and bees" talk?

The "big talk" is a thing of the past. Learning about sex should not occur in one all-or-nothing session. It should be more of an unfolding process, one in which kids learn, over time, what they need to know. Questions should be answered as they arise so that kids' natural curiosity is satisfied as they mature.

If your child doesn't ask questions about sex, don't just ignore the subject. When your child is about age 5, you can begin to introduce books that approach sexuality on a developmentally appropriate level. Parents often have trouble finding the right words, but many excellent books are available to help.

To what extent can parents depend on schools to teach sex education?

Parents should begin the sex education process long before it starts in school. The introduction of formal sexual education in the classroom varies; many schools start it in the fifth or sixth grade and some don't offer it at all.

 

 

Topics addressed in sexed class can include anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy. What teachers cover and when varies greatly from school to school. You may want to ask question about your school's curriculum so you can assess it yourself.

Children, when learning about sexual issues in school or outside of school, are likely to have many questions. The topic certainly can be confusing. Parents should be open to continuing the dialogue and answering questions at home. This is especially true if you want your kids to understand sexuality within the context of your family's values.

Body changes and sexual issues are an important part of human development. If you have questions about how to talk with your child about them ask your doctor for suggestions.

Pros and Cons of Sex Education in Schools

Pros of Sex Education in Schools

Sex education in schools can help children understand the impact of sex in their lives. It dispels myths related to sex and broadens their horizon.

It can also answer all the questions that they have regarding their changing body and hormonal surges.

Children are often inquisitive about the other gender. Sex education in school can help them understand the differences and keep the desire to explore things for themselves in check.

Child sexual abuse is a social malice that is afflicting thousands worldwide. Sex education in schools can play an active role in curbing the incidence of abuse as through these medium children can be made aware of the difference between good and bad touch.

It is much better to teach children about sexual health in school rather letting them use other resources, such as pornographic material and the internet. This is important because avenues, such as the internet have a huge store of information that might be misleading.

With problems, such as teenage pregnancies and transmission of STDs on the rise, it is only appropriate that sex education is made accessible in school so that the most number of children can be made aware.

Sex education in schools is being given increasing importance as it is known to inform students about issues related to sex and sexual health. It is considered important for societies that its individuals are well-informed about sex, sexual practices, child sexual abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.

A school plays an important role in implementing effective sex education to growing children. Various studies suggest that effective sex education in schools prevents adolescents experimenting with.

 

Conclusion

Sex education is very important to every child and should be taught to the child from a very young age, to prevent the child from unforeseen happenstance. Parents and school play an important role in implementing effective sex education to growing children. Various studies suggest that effective sex education prevents adolescents experimenting with sex. These sex education programmes also encourage the teenagers to use protection while indulging in any kind of sexual act.

 

Generalisation 

Children that are introduced to the knowledge of sex from a very tender age seem to understand more about it and are mostly not victims of rape or sexual harassment. This is because they already have the knowledge of, if a person is trying is trying to harass them sexually or otherwise and then they look for possible ways to avoid that person or report the person to a higher authority. 

 

Recommendations

  1. Sex education should be taught in every school from the nursery schools till the secondary schools and then there should be psychologist or counsellors at every school to help the child with issues that can't relate with people outside.
  2. Parents should be very observant and relate with their children in a way that the child will open up each and every time to them
  3. Parents should not at any time scare their children away by shouting at them or scolding them when a child has an opinion 
  4. No child from 2 years and is too small to learn about sex
  5. No parent should make sex education look awkward or awful while discussing with the child