Speaking from my personal experience, the only sex education I ever gained in my life was during studying the chapter “Reproduction” in School. And this is the same for most of us & I am sure many of you can easily relate to it.
I have met many people of my age who don’t understand the importance of many issues in Sex Education. They take it lightly & think it’s a thing to be joked about. There’s a guy in every group who always make non-veg jokes & often goes too far, and we love to laugh at him.
But when it comes to discussing it maturely, it’s suddenly a Hush-hush topic again. But why?
We will be discussing some issues in more detail in this article, highlighting what should be the appropriate way to educate our youth about Sex & related topics.
So here we go.
Firstly, let’s understand why Sex Education to Indian Youth should be given priority?
#1 The age of 10-19 is a time of making poor choices
India has a growing population of young Indians in the age group of 10-19 years.
Kids in this age are pumped with adrenaline & thus bound to experiment and engage in various risky activities. In the context of sexual health, it’s very common to hear that kids nowadays are taking wrong decisions due to poor judgment & lack of knowledge that leaves a permanent mark in their life.
I have heard stories from many of my girlfriends who were convinced to do things as instructed by a guy of older age (“let’s call them Boyfriends”). Many girls don’t really understand those demands & that’s why they agree to do it. Later on, when they grow up, they understood what they did & swore not to make the same mistakes again.
#2 Our Indian Society & our health care system overlooks the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents.
I will try my best to explain this point from my experience.
This extremely embarrassed my friend & she got angry at me. Our school didn’t have an openly accessible facility to get such things during emergencies like this. So we had to go to a lady teacher & she helped my friend by giving a sanitary napkin from her purse.
For many of you, this is a very common thing right. We have accepted this is how it’s supposed to happen, a lady teacher helping female students.
The main thing is such situations isn’t supposed to happen to a Class 9th girl. She has the right to have a safe environment to get the required help without feeling embarrassed.
Now many of you will blame me for bringing her shame, Well, I was just trying to help my friend & I was not “mature” enough to keep it hush-hush yet.
#3 Parents are not involved in Imparting Sex Education
Indian families don’t really ever bring up the word “SEX” in front of their teen kids. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, I think you can find many YouTubers discussing this in a most comic way possible.
Studies show that the majority of parents do not accept the responsibility for providing sex education, for example, in a 2013 Study, 88% of the male and 58% of the female students in colleges in Mumbai reported that they had received no sex education from parents.
Now, aren’t we all curious about our developing bodies?
Kids are too! So teens are bound to resort to the judgment-free ways to get information about these topics. Major sources are books, magazines, friends, and of course, pornography.
They contribute to the development of a wrong, yet the perfect image of sex in our head. So to get answers, we convince ourselves to make hasty decisions.
This statement is true for a quarter of India’s youth who have ever indulged in premarital sex.
Inaccurate information gathered from non-credible sources is the root cause of negligence to adopt healthy sexual practices and a positive attitude toward sex is necessary to maintain a lifelong healthy life.
Role of Government in Sex Education
I am not going to present my political views on this, but will only point out one specific program called Adolescent Education Programme (AEP) implemented by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Many of you may not be knowing about it. This is a program for school children to educate them about life skills including Sexual & reproductive health needs. I don’t know about the quality of its curriculum, so can’t really judge it’s effectiveness.
But I do know since it’s not mandatory to follow this program, so very few schools have participated. They are providing Sex-ed with very few trained instructors following the program layout given by the Ministry. This program is a mixture of all possible topics, so sex education is not exactly the star candidate here.
These include early and closely spaced pregnancy, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STI), HIV/AIDS, and sexual violence, the rates of which are already increasing at a disturbing rate.
What should be the appropriate methods to provide Sex Education to our Youth?
#1 Learning Begins at Home
Families can step up & begin teaching their adolescent teens the roles and responsibilities of males and females toward each other in all relationships in the context of Indian society, giving them the necessary knowledge to maintain sexual health as they navigate through the vulnerabilities of life.
Elders in the house should open up about issues like delayed initiation of sexual activity, a reduction in unplanned and early pregnancies and their associated complications, fewer unwanted children, reduced risks of sexual abuse, greater completion of education and later marriages, reduced recourse to abortion and the consequences of unsafe abortion, and a curb of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. We consider family as a safe space & thus kids will understand better about these things.
#2 Creating more Positive & credible Content on the Internet about Sex Education
In today’s world, we have powerful resources for gathering information like television, radio, and the internet. They are highly influential & can help bring sexual topics into discussions. If we focus on creating TV shows, videos, blogs, etc. which has credibility & portraits sex-positive image, it can help us to address the misinformed or uninformed youth. An example of such a series is “Sex Education” by Netflix. If you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend you to see it today. The only downside of this series is it’s not “based in India”!
#3 Develop Sex education programs for Teens in collaboration with experts
It may sound a lot of work. But it’s the progressive way of imparting Sex Education to Teens. Healthcare professionals such as Psychologists, social workers, Psychiatrists, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Genito-Urinary Physicians can help create tailored Sex education programs which are more likely to be effective in creating a positive impact towards the attitudes and behavior of adolescents of India, making them capable of making informed decisions in Life.
It’s time to remove the social stigma around Sex education. I urge you to open up & build an educated & mature society where it’s not a taboo to address sex-related issues. Let’s work on creating a safe environment for teens to openly present their problems. Let’s listen & help them in a way we didn’t get in our time. This might be the easiest step we can take individually to decrease the rates of early pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STI), HIV/AIDS, and sexual violence. Since you have reached the end of this blog it surely means you agree with my arguments & ready to bring change.
So, Let’s work together to make Sex education a “Thing” in India.
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