What Does Sex Education Entail? Sex education is the process of imparting our young ones with the right knowledge about sex. Having the right knowledge about sex helps the child to make informed decision or sound judgement when dealing with personal or inter-relational sexuality.
The scope of the content varies with the stage of development and level of exposure of a child. It also covers the honest answer to every question in their minds. Sex education ranges from the basics to intermediates, and to advance information for the grown ups. Parents should eschew the pretense about their awareness of the fact that the child would know the things they are not telling him/her about sex from external sources. Your child should not experience the first menstruation or ejaculation before you inform him/her about it. Since you know they would know, why don’t you take pride in being the first to tell them and seize the opportunity of molding their sexual behaviour.
Let’s examine the content through the earlier mentioned levels.
Basic Level: At this stage, a child should be taught to identify the different sexes, organs and the usage of those organs. It is important to call the name as it is, if your child perceive your shyness in mentioning it to them, he/she would be reluctant in opening up to you when they have issues in that area.
A girl is a female person with an external sex organ known as vagina. A boy is a male person with an external sex organ known as penis. Let the child know how to treat his/her organ with respect, cleanliness and privacy.
They should know, that organ is personal to everyone, no-one should intrude into another person’s privacy. At this level, you as a parent would have to deal with a variety of inquisitions, such as – why does Mum has bigger chest than Dad? why do we pass out water from our private organs? why is Tom different from Debby? why is that woman’s tummy so big? and the likes.
You will do well to always patiently, honestly, and interestingly answer them in understandable terms. By so doing, you would be establishing an enjoyable atmosphere for rapport and have them coming to learn as they transit to puberty.
Intermediate Level: Don’t shout her down, when your child asks about what Mummy does with sanitary pad or you may be surprised that at age eight or nine your daughter has her first menstruation, but you are yet to tell her anything about it. Don’t be caught up in surprise when a child asks you questions that seems too big for his/her mouth, rather seize the opportunity to upgrade the information you have been passing across. At the intermediary level, you would need to tell your child about the changes to expect at puberty, the reasons for those changes and the biological functions responsible for the changes.
At puberty, the variations between a boy and a girl become more glaring. Prepare the mind of your boy or girl ahead of the changes they would start to notice.
A girl will soon notice lumps on her chest, hair on the pubic part, hips taking shape, blood may flow from the private part and boys may start to make sexual advances towards her.
A boy will soon notice his voice getting deeper, muscle toning up, hair on the pubic areas, slimy fluid from the organ, and a longing for the opposite sex.
When they get to that stage, they should know they are normal, nothing is wrong with them, it only shows they are growing up. Help their emotion by not making a big deal of managing the situation. Monthly cycle for girls comes with hormonal intervention which may cause emotional fluctuation, this time, they need their parent to be friendly, empathetic, and caring, to help them master the situation.
Lack of friendly parental relationship at this point may lead the child to turning reclusive or bad external influence.
Advance Level: It’s important to note that these levels have to do with the depth of information you pass across to a child per time, and not just about his/her age.
At the advance level, you should expose the child to the pertinent aspect of the reproductive system.They need to know how to maintain healthy relationship with the opposite sex.They should know the chain of events that leads to sexual intercourse, what happens during sexual intercourse and the consequences. They should know the beauty, the purpose and the proper context for sexual intercourse. They should know the devastation that premarital sex could cause to their emotion, health and career. They should learn to distinguish between love and sex, that sex is not the proof of love, but the true love waits.
They should learn about the illegality or impropriety of sexual overtures, by touch, words or attitude, and preventive, protective and reporting measures to take.
How Much Information is Appropriate? The appropriate information to pass across while teaching a child about sex has some dynamics. How much is too much or how much is too little depends on a number of factors.
Basically, you will consider the age of the child. More than that, you should consider the rate of physical growth and the level of exposure. Exposure may be in terms of local communities, material items or the media. In local community, you want to look at other children in the neighborhood, at school and other places. Material items may include books, toys, magazines, technologies. Exposure via the media may involve pictures, video, audio and texts on screens via smart phones, television, social media, bill boards and the likes.
The level of your child’s exposure to one or more of the aforementioned should inform the level of information you pass across.
An important key is to be proactive. A parent should be able to identify danger and notice warning signals ahead of time and tailor the appropriate education on sex as and when due.
What about condom and contraceptives? Religious parents worry about any sex education that includes the usage of condom or pills as a means of protection against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STIs / STDs), especially as it’s obtained in school curricular. Most of these parents, on their own would dare not mention condom and pills to their wards. My opinion is, your child should not be made to perceive that you are hiding this aspect from him/her because you know ‘it’s good’. Fine, if you know you can control their exposure circle to exclude such teachings, but if not, dare to be the first to tell them about it and let them know your stand and the family ideal.
Let them know, that none of the contraceptive methods is 100% failure-proof. Abstinence remains the best protection against unplanned pregnancy and STIs / STDs.
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