“The soul is healed by being with children.,” said Fyodor Dostoyevsky the Russian writer in the 1800’s. Even after many centuries, it still holds true. Anyone who is a parent or has been associated with children will vouch for the pleasure we derive when we spend some time with a child. Their innocence I believe is what gives us this pleasure. As children grow older, they tend to know more, want more and hence be dissatisfied more than they can be happy. Information to a large extent robs one of innocence. Every parent wants his or her children to be innocent for as long as possible. But what we want more is that our child be safe.
Safety of children which should be a given in any society, is sadly a very big issue in today’s world. We hear about so many heart breaking occurrences happening daily that must never have happened to anyone, least of all to innocent children. With each generation passing by or even every decade that goes past, we see that a parent’s fear regarding their child’s safety is increasing. With so much exposure into any topic under the sun due to the internet, information available to the children of today which majorly includes wrong information of all kinds, we as parents see that the main danger to the children are themselves and their wrong interpretations of what they access, assimilate and digest.
Sex education is one major topic, which is a large cause of concern to parents. In India a lot of controversy is now going on regarding sex education in schools due to the comments, misquotes and arguments of various people involved in the education system and the media. According to me knowledge is absolutely essential to keep safe. But knowledge about sex education has to be accurate and serious. It is very difficult to decide how much knowledge about sex is good at what age and in which manner to impart it. Each child has different ages of understanding and maturity. So it is not easy to decide the age at which sex education must be introduced into the curriculum in schools.
However it is very important to have a basic talk or rather keep talking about sex and safety at a very early age to teach the child about the wrong touch. We teach our child (by the time they are a year or two) not to talk to or go alone with strangers. There is no harm in also letting them know whom they can trust. I remember teaching my son when he was just two years old, not to allow anyone to take off his clothes anytime. This rule applied to everyone other than his parents or grandparents. In today’s world with most families having both parents working full time, it is even more essential for us to give clear instructions to children about who is ok to clean them up and what is not allowed. It is actually easy to talk to very small children as they are not embarrassed and usually follow instructions given seriously very well. The most important thing is that your instruction be clear and you be ready to answer any doubts they have any number of times they ask. Children should realise at a young age that they can talk to their parents about anything they want. According to me this is the first step in sex education.
What comes in school is essential too. Children are most influenced by the school, teachers and their peers. As they grow older and start attending school, the teacher is always their role model and it actually becomes so much easier to get them to follow anything that the teacher says, rather than the parents. If sex education is introduced into the school curriculum, it becomes so much more effective.
Each society has its own culture. Even within India, we see that the culture varies drastically depending on the norms followed by the immediate society we live in. It might be different in cities as compared to villages and towns and also may depend on the socio-economic status of the family a child comes from. However in today’s world of global nomads, we need to prepare our children for their future, which may not be anything similar to the life they are living at present. It also does not matter whether they live their adult years in the same place where they grew up or any other part of the world since the town or city they are growing up in today is also going to see a drastic change in its culture by the time they are adults. Sex education in schools should include lessons on puberty, reproduction and safe sex before it occurs in the children’s lives. It might seem like robbing their children of their innocence too soon or like planting ideas in their heads where there are none. But in the information age of the Internet, it is better to be safe than sorry.