With a rise in cases of child sex abuse across the country, many organisations, including the Parents Teachers Association United Forum (PTAUF) feel that parents should start talking to kids at home instead of waiting for the government to introduce sex education in the school syllabus.
Meanwhile, PTAUF plans to continue with their demand for the government to introduce sex education in the school syllabus, mainly because kids tend to take their teachers more seriously than their parents. PTAUF consists of parents and teachers who work for the students’ welfare, and have more than 150 schools affiliated.
The government had introduced sex education earlier, but most of the content came from western countries, which was not exactly in sync with our society. “This time, we want to approach the government with a plan that includes the opinions of psychiatrists and counsellor,” says Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTAUF. Chavan says members of the forum will be meeting education minister Rajendra Darda with a proposal to introduce sex education in the school programme.
They struggle to get an audience with CM Prithviraj Chavan. “Meanwhile, we are trying to get parents to initiate a conversation with their children. We find many of them unable to bring up the issue with their kids,” he says.
Reeta Gupta, a mother of two, says, “There are two aspects to the issue. The first one: Is sex-education needed in schools? The answer is yes. The second one is the specifics of how to implement the plan. A wide range of issues come into play here. Information about abstinence, body image, contraception, gender, human growth and development, human reproduction, the anatomy, pregnancy, relationships, safety (prevention of sexually transmitted infections), individual values, appropriate behaviour, hygiene, orientation - all of these have to be woven together smartly.”
Gupta feels that in addition to the right information, sex education needs the right environment too. “It has to be administered in small groups; interactivity and group comfort is key. People who are shy will not be able to get their doubts clarified in larger groups, where nudging and giggling are the norm. Age-appropriate sexual health information gives youngsters the self-esteem to develop practical skills for keeping healthy,” she says.
Errick Elavia, principal, Lady Engineer School, says, “Sex education needs to be communicated subtly. It’s not just about dealing with children; parents need to be educated too. Additionally, they should take an active part in monitoring what their children have access to on the Internet.”