Friday, March 11, 2011

Is Sex Education for Primary School Kids a Bad Thing?

I started out thinking this would be a music blog but I’m thinking of turning it into one where I can express my thoughts on pretty much any subject. Hope it works.

This is a response I gave to a Facebook post by a close friend of mine, Mr Simon Bellord-Bull, who objected to a Christian organisation coming out with a document objecting to sex education for primary school kids ( ). There followed a rather ugly religious discussion involving another friend of mine. Here is my response.

I've skimmed through the article and find the content a conservative point of view – a valid one too for people like my parents who, though liberal in most things, tend to avoid all matters concerning sex. Also, if a child is too young (and I'm sure there have been research studies done regarding proper ages to begin education about sex) then the point gets lost and a child would probably resort to feeling a bit queasy about imaging mom and dad doing the wild thing.

Personally, I was brought up without almost any knowledge of sex or even that girls didn't have wee-wees like us boys. Most of my education came from when I read The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris at age 11. This book studies the similarities and dissimilarities in various aspects of ape vs. human life. This was also one of my first forays into the subject of evolution.

Also, being in India, there is no such thing as sex education. Even when we were learning about the reproductive system in biology class we were asked to omit large portions of text and were forbidden to read them. I still went ahead and did so and managed to learn quite a bit, which I'm happy for. I think this helped me in understanding women, and myself, better and made me a more sexually conscious person and feel it also made me a more responsible one.

Any woman in India, or who has been to India, will tell you about the lechers and eve-teasers that fill every corner of the country. Most men will not think twice about staring at a woman, licking his lips and whistling. We have ridiculously high rates of sexual crime as well as the second largest population in the world. Does that say something about us 'conservative' Indians? I prefer to use the words 'sexually oppressed'. Ironic that this is a word I would use for the country that produced the Kama Sutra- the ultimate Joy of Sex book for the ancients.

I worked in a rural marketing agency whose clients were non-governmental organisations trying to educate the rural masses about sex and contraception. One of them ran 'sex camps' which took children in for a weekend and educated them about many aspects of sex and gender issues. But before you jump to any conclusions, let me clarify the effects of such a thing.

I had the opportunity to talk to these youngsters who were a part of these camps and had a discussion about what they learned and how they could teach the same things to their parents. (Let me remind you, these are families living below the poverty line who have limited, if any, access to an education you or I would consider adequate.)

These children left me reeling with shock and awe. I would be hard pressed to find a person of my level in society, or higher, who was as sensible, responsible and respectful of the opposite gender. These kids not only knew about themselves better but also could respect each other's sexuality more than most adults. They knew the reproductive process, menstrual cycles and understood what STDs were and how to prevent them! And these are kids ranging from age 5 to 18. Amazing!

From a religious point of view, I also found that Hindu families were far more open to birth control than Muslim families. Muslims think a child is a gift from God and no contraception should be used (Much like the Catholic philosophy). Yet they hump like rabbits till the cows come home (pardon the clich├ęs. They felt appropriate) and end up with 15 kids and no food or money to feed them, clothe them or educate them. What sense does that make? (In addition, the Catholic aversion to sex, contraception and sex-education is very similar to the Islamic philosophy. In contrast, Hinduism and most other religious denominations have no problems with any of it.)

I think most girls coming into puberty who have no idea what to expect are traumatised when they have their first period. The same goes for a boy's first hard-on (though I’m not comparing the physical experience of either, just the embarrassment). And if it's in school, they're teased about it and the trauma is far worse. Also, teenagers would giggle and snigger and get horny at the first mention of sex education and, understandably, wouldn't pay much attention to the facts and how serious the matter is. The key is to find the right age to teach kids the important things so that when they enter puberty they know how to deal with it better endure fewer traumas and teasing. They would also know about penises and vaginas and how babies are made so they know about safety, STD's and sexual crimes.

Therefore sex education is a must for children as long as it is taught at the right age, responsibly and covers every aspect to help children understand their, and each other’s, bodies better. Trust me, it won't turn them into pervs and rapists. I have seen evidence of that.

To add to this, teen pregnancy is also a major problem in the western world. It is also surprising to note that there are a lot of sexually irresponsible teenagers out there who like to have a bonk after getting trashed on a saturday night and usually this ends up without protection. Such a blatant disregard to any consequences is dangerous. All the more reason to start sex education earlier before any damage is done.