Importance of Sex Education


Many parents overlook the importance of sex education, especially in a country like India where the topic is surrounded by taboo. This might be because they don’t think of it as an appropriate topic for a child to learn about. Some parents who want their children to be provided with sex education find themselves in a position where they have to take matters into their own hands since many schools don’t offer sex education.

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However, they fall behind because they don’t know where to start, or even how to approach the topic. These parents might feel embarrassed to talk about sex and related topics with their children since they’ve never gotten the talk from their parents. This article aims to bring the reader’s attention towards the importance of sex education in helping children make informed choices, taking into consideration what is healthy for them to engage in.

What is Sex Education?

Sex education involves spreading awareness about topics including the development of the body, sexuality, relationships and the risks of physical contact. This lets growing children make informed decisions about their sexual health, and promotes physical, as well as mental well-being. For children whose bodies are constantly developing, it isn’t possible to avoid the influence of hormones or the libido. While their bodies mature, it’s important for these children to also know about these changes to avoid any discrepancy that might cause the child to do something that might not be in their favour.

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Sex education also aims at preparing an adolescent to turn to safe sex practices. While parents might not wish to tackle this subject hoping that their child will not have sex, it is still important to do so. While teaching an adolescent about contraceptives like condoms or birth control pills, you are letting them grow as informed individuals, who will keep their best interests in mind.

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Sex education is not just a one-time lecture that your child will interact with, it is supposed to be age-focused and concepts should be built on over time. When a child is young, they need to learn about their bodies, like the real names of their body part, or some processes the body will go through, such as menstruation. As the child approaches their teen years, they need to be informed about topics including sex. Sex education is a right that enables children to lead a healthy life. Thus, it is the responsibility of the authority figures to provide them with it.

Ways to Educate Your Child:

The first step to opt for sex education for your child is to acknowledge its importance and to have enough knowledge yourself to be able to guide them properly. If you wish to educate your child about sex and other related topics, but don’t know how these are a few steps to keep in mind.

  • Create a space for open conversations: By doing this, you are removing the awkwardness that the taboo of sex has created. This will help you and your child focus on the conversation.
  • Introducing the child with the correct terms: Start using the actual terms for private parts as the child grows. This will show them that these parts are nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Use other resources: Using visual diagrams, podcasts, books and other resources can help in easing into a discussion and conveying concepts.
  • Be your child’s safe space: Constantly assure them that they can ask you anything and they can talk to you about problems that they might be facing.
  • Know what is appropriate at what age: It’s important not to overwhelm a child with information irrelevant to their age. Start with the names of genitals and slowly move on to other topics like the basics of reproduction and gender identity when their age calls for it.

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Importance of Sex Ed

Sexuality is an important part of human life. So, sex education teaches a child all aspects of their sexuality. This prevents a lack of knowledge. Additionally, it also prevents confusion that might be caused by varying information from other sources. These sources, in many cases, don’t even follow the right approach of teaching, and often misguide the child. It Lets the parents, and in some cases, the schools, be in control of sharing enough information and setting these growing adolescents on the right path. This also means that adolescents receiving sex education are urged to practice abstinence until they grow older.

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According to UNESCO, one in four sexual abuse cases takes place before a child turns eighteen. Keeping this in mind, it is the parent’s responsibility to educate the child, saving them from being in a situation where they can be taken advantage of. Effective sex education also prevents adolescents from naively agreeing to have sex with the wrong partner at an early age. Sex education further helps in preventing teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Sex education also teaches an adolescent about topics such as hygiene and consent, and the importance of it.

Downfalls of the lack of Sex Ed:

A UNESCO report mentions that sex education is only addressed by laws in 20% of the countries and only 39% have national policies supporting it. In fact, in India, sex is such a taboo topic that some of the states including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, among others, have banned sex education. More conversations need to take place to reduce the taboo surrounding sex. The importance of sex education is yet to be recognized by many bodies. Now ask yourself this question- if you don’t teach your child, where will they learn from? The answer is not that they won’t learn.

Curiosity increases as children grow. Children these days are inclined to social media. While there are many great resources, and people trying to spread valid information, there are other sources misleading children. Sometimes it becomes difficult for children to determine which is right. Additionally, children might expose themselves to pornography, which sometimes leads to addiction and over-the-top expectations from future partners. Looking at the perfection in the pictures painted through porn, adolescents might compare themselves, which further leads to body image issues.

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Many also engage with people they meet online, further being involved in activities such as digital sex, which are of high risk. By taking away a child’s right to sex education, you might be taking away a major source of self-identity and empowerment. It also shapes mental health, without which a child’s emotions can go unnoticed. Further, as a parent, denying them this knowledge might also create barriers between you and your child. In such cases, they might be scared to approach you for help, even if they find themselves in some kind of trouble. Thus, parents, organizations and the government must focus on arming the youth with the correct knowledge for their healthy growth.

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