Yes, let’s talk about sex education. Listen up, parents.
We need to understand that it’s not just about educating your children about safe sex because it covers more than that. It’s about understanding your body, having a healthy relationship with intimacy, having boundaries, consent, contraception, sexual health and much more.
It’s about honest and open communication, even if it’s tough to navigate at times.
Unfortunately, S-E-X is also a taboo subject in Asian households. Families should be more open about this so that their children will talk to them when something is wrong. I urge parents to take this seriously. Children these days are easily exposed thanks to the internet, streaming services and their friends. It’s impossible to shield them from everything. How can you speak to your child so that they understand what is happening?
If you combine this with Malaysia’s “barely scratching the surface” sex ed classes/seminars in public schools, it’s a recipe for disaster. No, the stuff they teach you in biology doesn’t qualify. No, signing an abstinence card isn’t a solution either.
Furthermore, if your immediate response to sex ed is shutting it down, you’re probably part of the problem and not the solution. We need to find a healthier way to approach this topic on all levels.
Why is sex-ed important? Here’s a list of just some of the troubling events that have happened close to home:
- Libresse’s V-Kebaya Limited Edition Range campaign received extreme backlash for trying to educate people about the V-zone.
- Single women are being denied affordable contraception by Klinik Nur Sejahtera, Malaysia’s version of Planned Parenthood.
- A teacher made a rape joke and the student who reported it was subjected to abuse (even a lawsuit!) instead.
- Our minister said that “It is not right to have too many baby hatches, as this could encourage more babies to be abandoned”.
Why are these things still happening today? Why are we so afraid to even speak up about it? All these troubling events reinforce the need for a healthier discussion about sex education. Maybe it’s time for parents to put their foot down and take action.
Change will not happen overnight. Start small. Here are some steps you can take as a parent to educate your kids about sex:
1) Educate them about consent
What is consent? How do we define boundaries? Educating your child about this can begin when they are just toddlers. Tell them what is and isn’t appropriate for physical touch (touching and being touched) and how to say no.
2) Provide a safe space for them
Let your child know that they can speak to you about anything at any age. Once they feel comfortable speaking to you, they will share if something or someone is overly intimate. If it’s happening within the family, please pay attention and don’t ignore their pleas.
3) Use proper words for sexual anatomy
Avoid using nicknames to describe genitalia. Why? By doing this, you could be inadvertently teaching them that their private parts are something we shouldn’t speak of. If they complain about being inappropriately touched by others, which holds more weight in court? Think about it. Talk about eyes, ears, shoulders, vagina and penis in the same neutral tone.
4) Answer their questions honestly
Be honest. Refrain from discouraging your kid to question you and making up answers. If you are unsure, let them know you’ll follow up with them later. Don’t be afraid to look for information and guidance from healthcare providers or other reliable sources.
Although these are just small steps, it goes a long way in fostering open communication about sex education with your children.
Stephanie Aeria is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
Register at headliner.newswav.com to become one of our content writers now!
*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.