Need For Early Sex Education

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OPINION
– Peace Sunday

Sex education is regarded as a deliberate knowledge given to a teenager to enlighten him or her on issues relating to human sexuality. It is most necessary and in fact a fundamental information every teenager should first be armed with, at the home front before he or she gets it elsewhere.  According to Science Daily, sex education is “a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, and other aspects of human sex behavior”.

As many parents are saddled with numerous such responsibilities as provision of basic necessities, schooling, bills payment among others, they often neglect this all-important aspect of child rearing and upbringing – sex education. This inevitably leads to a rampant case of child abuse and rape often resulting in “babies giving birth to babies” and in some, more pathetic cases such as death.

Child sexual abuse has to do with the use of an underage child by an adult or an older adolescent for sexual stimulation. It comes in various forms such as intimate and passionate kissing, touching and fondling of a child’s genitals with the fingers, penis, sex toys or other objects. It also includes watching pornography with a child and genital contact, oral, anal and vaginal penetration.

Data released by the World Health Organization estimate that globally, at least, 1500 million girls and 17 million boys under the age of 18 years have experienced forced sexual acts at some points in their lives, and alarmingly, most abusers are often known and trusted adults including parents and other family members.

And there exists some divides on how parents choose to tackle the monster called child sexual abuse, which is rearing its head not only in Nigeria but in the international scene as well. Parents in the first divide are either consciously or unconsciously on the reactive; they prefer being on the scolding part when the teenager might have gone wrong in this regard or when extensive damage might have been made, a hitherto “sacred” topic suddenly is given out to open debates, and it tends to be a kind of post-mortem treatment. Kids with parents in this divide find it extremely difficult to confide in their parents when such things rear its head initially, until, when sadly, they make the evening news.

On the other side of the divide are parents and guardians who choose to shelve the issue of sex and sexuality until their kids attain age of puberty before they could open up on such issues. They tend to think that, telling kids about sex before they are ready for it tends to expose his/her mind to immoral thoughts and promiscuous behaviours that his/her mind cannot deal with, hence doing more damage than the good intended. This divide poses a threat in the sense that they may come up with this discussion at a point when the child in question has discovered a whole lot of strange things about his/her body and might feel shy talking about them.

However, a divide believes in catching them young. This group of parents believes in telling their child about the various aspects of their body that makes them who they are. Parents and guardians in this divide act on the notion that information is power, and that open communication is the best tool to combating this menace. This notion gives verve to the standpoint.

There really is no need postponing that information about sex when on a daily basis a child/ward is going out there into a world of uncertainties. Gone are those days when neighbour (either married or single), siblings, class teacher, religious figure, relative, and even their biological father were entrusted with kids, and nothing fishy transpired when no one was watching. Nowadays, married men and women go about seeking to have carnal knowledge of kids in the neighborhood, class teachers and clergymen perpetuate these unwholesome acts with kids that are supposed to learn morals from them. Appalling tales abound of relatives and fathers having sexual intercourse with their biological daughters, whom they are meant to secure from randy fellows that are out there everywhere in town; some get them pregnant and own up to it while others vehemently deny.

Sex education ought to be introduced at an early stage, starting from teaching the child about the basic part of his/her body, at appropriate sessions, and continuously so. In addition, experts advise people to keep the conversation on a level appropriate for a child’s age. In addition, when kids ask questions relating to sexuality, parents should endeavour to provide them with straight forward answers instead of hushing them or coming up with muddled interpretation.

Needless stressing the fact that if parents and guardians do not see the need to, first, tell their kids and wards about sex and sexuality, before someone else with ulterior motives does so; the version of this information they are likely to get from other sources such as the internet, their peers and even the elderly may be deficient or of dubious values.

Psychologists, therefore, advise that sex education can be given to children from the age of three to six, or as soon as it is noticed that they have started having immature sex feeling, an occurrence that is not rare in kids. This information should continue as the child progresses in life, as far as his/her teen age.

No sex predator knowing full well that the child he has been trying to “circle in” has a good grasp of what he is about to do and will most likely report to the parents, will still find that child vulnerable. However, if a predator discovers that a child is naïve about sex and other related issues, such child is highly vulnerable and of course an easy prey for the predator to munch on.

The earlier the kids are armed against child sex abuse, the better off they will be. Of course, as the saying goes, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.