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Excerpt from Chapter 1 – The why and how of sex education

Sex is not a grimy secret between two ashamed individuals, but a divine impulse of life and love. Like all the other instincts, the sexual instinct also carries with it certain responsibilities, and the only way to prepare the young generation for being responsible sexually, is through sex education.

Sex education does not mean merely providing information on genital-centred sex; it implies transferring correct values, balanced attitudes and sound perceptions. It is important that we raise children to become adults who will use their sexuality in mature and responsible ways. It is our responsibility to keep the young generation adequately informed, so that correct scientific knowledge may lead to building healthy attitudes towards sex, high standards of conduct, responsible behaviour, and wholesome personalities.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Values in human sexuality

When children display curiosity towards sex and seek information, adults often view it as ‘indecent’, ‘incorrect’, ‘perverted’ or ‘abnormal’, and shun or condemn the sexual enquiry. By doing this, they stigmatise the curious child, who is ‘normally’ sexual, just as the adult from whom s/he is seeking answers. In fact, children who do not display such curiosity are often ‘masked’ and are probably accessing the information elsewhere, as they are aware of the unhealthy stigma attached to sexual enquiry. Therefore, adults need to view such sexual curiosity in children with respect, as it is emerging from an existential need for the survival of life on earth. Sexual curiosity, if condemned, could lead to creating warped, unhealthy individuals who will access to this information from irresponsible sources. The guilt in them for feeling sexual, could lead to creating distorted personalities obsessed with sex, with low self-esteem and a negative self-image, as they are deeply self-condemnatory.

Excerpt from Chapter 3 – Key principles of sex education

Children often ask so-called sexual questions more out of ‘curiosity’. The questions that children ask adults at the pre-pubertal stage are more often than not, merely out of curiosity and are not ‘sexual’ in nature. Very often, it is the adults who have an unhealthy view towards human sexuality, and who because of their own inhibitions and awkwardness, read more into an innocent question by a curious child, and see it as an ‘immoral sexual question’. Things like watching a commercial on sanitary napkins or seeing the growing belly of a pregnant female teacher makes children curious to know more about what they see and hear. The thumb rule for parents and teachers is—never kill a child’s curiosity. It is curiosity that has provoked man to discover the secrets of the universe and develop science, and therefore there cannot be a bigger crime than curbing a curious mind, which has the ability to learn, explore and reason.

Excerpt from Chapter 4 – The what and when of sex education

When it comes to adolescents, the influence of misinformed peer groups has set the trend of exploring relationships with a new kind of freedom. Their approach to sex is more ‘reactionary’. This is because our society has always been prohibitive and repressive in matters of sex. The result is a paradox in their young minds. They are either found feeling guilty for their natural sexual instinct, or they are found indulging in risky sexual experiments.

The rising rate of pre-marital indulgence and pre-marital abortions in early adulthood, and the increasing number of teenagers visiting STD and abortion clinics, is an eye-opener to the new attitudes of teenagers towards love, sex & commitment. In our consulting practice, we have so often come across teenagers confronted with an unexpected & unwanted pregnancy, and do not know how to face the situation or what to do about it… And this is because they are told nothing about the price that one has to pay for sexual freedom; and the potential damage to their emotional health and well-being.

Reassure them that while their sexuality and feelings are normal, they need to make responsible decisions regarding their sexuality. Teens can be easy targets for ‘peer pressure’ and bad advice. Therefore, we must encourage them to think for themselves in their own best interest.

Excerpt from Chapter 5 – Child sexual abuse: Breaking the silence

Sexual abuse is amongst the most sensitive and the most important topics parents need to discuss with their children. Some parents believe their children face little danger of being abused, that they are too young to be told about the possibility, and that discussing the subject will frighten them unnecessarily. Others want to deny the thought that it might happen in their families. The facts belie such attitudes. It is like a fire drill. You hope the real thing never happens, but if it does, the well-prepared child is more likely to survive.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, one in six of rape victims, are under the age of twelve. Nearly six out of ten sexual assault incidents are reported by victims to have occurred in their own home or at the home of a friend, relative, or neighbour. Therefore, your child needs to know that there are some people in this world who force others to perform sexual acts against their will.

Most people think an abuser is a stranger, a sleazy character lurking near the school compound, luring children with sweets. On the contrary, 75 to 80 percent of sex crimes against children, are committed by someone the child knows, trusts and loves. Some 45 percent are relatives such as uncles, cousins, brothers and even fathers. Another 30 to 40 percent are acquaintances such as friends, neighbours, servants, teachers, drivers and even doctors.

Excerpt from Chapter 6 – Modelling healthy sexual conduct

When adults display sexual behaviour in front of young minds, they are in fact engaging in sexual abuse with the child. This subtle sexual abuse of the child’s mind is not classically viewed as sexual abuse, but the damage is as grave as if the child had been physically sexually abused, and the effects as devastating and with long-lasting consequences.

Viewing of adult sexual behaviour can create arousal in a young child even before s/he is existentially ready to understand and process such feelings in a healthy manner. Thus, it is tampering with nature’s timing, and interferes greatly with the natural growing up process of the child.

However, we must clarify that if a child observes two adults of the opposite gender, either his parents or someone else, expressing warm and caring feelings, such as expression of appreciation, gratitude, admiration, encouragement and other kind and comforting words, s/he learns to model such emotional intimacy. Also, equally beneficial would be for the child to witness apologies being asked, and forgiveness being given, as it models humility and love in the relationship. Non-sexual touching such as holding hands, keeping your head on your partner’s shoulder, or putting an arm around the shoulder, and a light and affectionate hug, are not only harmless, but also help in being a role model for a healthy and emotionally intimate man-woman relationship. When children see their parents affectionate in such a way, it creates in them a feeling of security knowing that all is well between the parents.

Excerpt from Chapter 7 – Low-down on date rape

Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that you do not want or agree to. It happens whenever a person’s sexual privacy is not respected. It ranges from inappropriate touching to penetration or intercourse. It also can be verbal, visual, audio, or any other form, which forces a person to participate in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape, child molestation, voyeurism, exhibitionism, incest, and sexual harassment. All forms of sexual assault are crimes as per the “Indian Penal Code (1860)”.

When someone is forced to have sexual intercourse, it is called rape. If a friend, relative or date forces you to have sexual intercourse, it is called acquaintance rape. Date rape is particularly common among adolescent victims. But rape is not the only kind of sexual abuse. Unwanted touching, fondling, watching, talking, or being forced to look at another person’s sex organs are all forms of sexual abuse. Although the majority of sexual abusers are male, perpetrators can be of either gender. They are often friends, or even family members. In fact, 80 per cent of sexual abuse is committed by friends, intimate partners, acquaintances, or family members (Journal of Law and Medical Ethics, 1993). Nearly 6 out of 10 rape or sexual assault incidents are reported by victims to have occurred in their own home or at the home of a friend, relative, or neighbour. No matter who attacks you, sexual assault is a crime.

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