I remember I was 9 when I first got curious about how children were born, and like every other 9-year-old I turned to my mother for an answer. She answered very confidently, “God gives them as a present”. Now that I think about that encounter, I am not surprised about the answer but the spontaneity of her answer. As if it was programmed into her head.
So was it? Let’s dive deeper into the question.
Sex education in India is given importance in bits and pieces. The government of India initiated the ‘Adolescent Education Program’ (AEP) in 2007 in collaboration with National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). However, although these programs cover issues such as body image, violence and abuse, gender and sexuality and STIs, substance abuse, especially drugs, and other unhealthy attitudes, the notion of ‘consent’ and ‘attraction’ was neither introduced nor incorporated in this program.
So what is sex? And why do we need to be educated about it?
There was a time when sex was considered just an act of procreation. You only had sex to pass on your genes. That was the basic human need. But it evolved, from reproduction to intimacy to love to abuse and finally to sexual violence. Our society has come a long way in the past 300 years.
So why do we need to change our existing system? I mean we do know the basic steps. What more is required? To me, we need to introduce ethics into our sex education. The only form of sex education that we as Indian get is in the form of pornography or its branches and let’s just face it that there is indeed no concept of consent or ethics of any form in it.
We need to have a curriculum that includes tough conversations worth having. Simply teaching students about reproduction isn’t enough, says Lamb, a professor of counseling psychology at UMass Boston, who has been researching the intersection between caring relationships, sex, and education for decades. Students also to have understood why consent is important and think about consent in a variety of contexts. At the heart of that understanding are questions about human morality, how we relate to one another, and what we owe to one another. In other words, ethics.
A lot in our country can be solved if we just taught the children the right thing. In a world where everything is digital, we need to make sure that our children have the conscience to judge between right and wrong. They need to know about sexual abuse and sexual violence. They need to know about sexualities and sexual preferences. Locking them up in isolation is in no way protection.
In the end I would say, SexEd is not about sex, it’s about health and well-being in relation to sexuality, human rights, values, and healthy and respectful relationships. It’s about the children and their future.
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