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Reproductive Health



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Thanks to Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri for his attempt to stress the importance of the above subject to teenagers - Sex Education in normal English terms. But, we Sri Lankans, are afraid to use the word even. We have to hide it in scientific jargon nobody understands. Hope the kids are able to digest the garble in the ‘Ape hathe potha’ if it ever comes out. This secrecy and shame in the subject is believed to be due to our culture/religion? Definitely religion, going by the strong response of the Buddhist monk against it.


Dr. Ratnasiri clearly explains the dangers and pitfalls if kids are not taught sex education in schools. Simply because no other adult, including parents, will volunteer for this. He talks with facts and figures. The claim that learning early will ‘titilate’ children holds no water, especially if they are taught young enough. In a reputed international school, the Hathe potha (Grade 7) subject matter is taught in Grade 5. In separate classrooms, for boys and girls, they learned about the changes they and their bodies will go through, long before it actually started happening to them. They learned about changes in the opposite sex and about sex itself. At that age it never ‘titillated’ them other than bring up some disbelief, giggles and a fair amount of disgust. (And a few protests from the parents!) I know because my son goes there.


Now in Grade 7, aged 13, they are discussing making SMART decisions, in different situations, including sex! For example, if an opportunity presents itself, will I? If the girlfriend suggests, will I? If I’m in a steady relationship, will I? If others are doing it, will I? This is long before they will ever encounter such scenario in their life. They are not going to come across these scenarios for a good few years down the road. Even I(as liberal as I am) balked and felt this was too much of a decision for a mere 13-year-old to face. But I know he WILL be facing such choices sooner or later in his life and the decision making process they were taught, will come into play and will hold him in good stead in his life. Also, at this age, with no complication of ‘girls’ yet, and hormones still not taken him over, he was able to look at the issue and choices, rather dispassionately and logically. This might not be the case when he is 16 or 17 years old. Though many might disagree with this, now I see the advantage of pre-emptying the problem before it hits him.


I gathered that sex education is also seen as a way to prevent sexual abuse of children. I don’t think this should be the purpose of sex education. One must definitely tell a kid what is allowed and not, when it comes to his /her body. And who is allowed to touch his body. This should be imparted in a child-friendly manner. It also has to be non-alarming to the kid. It need not be related to sex at all. One need not explain about sex in detail to a child, to caution him against sexual offenders. There’s a beautiful video in India done with Amir Khan doing a song to drive home the child safety measures to a bunch of children. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9hRO-crY60 ) Sri Lanka could definitely adopt that format to inform and safeguard even very young children. But, primarily, the safety of children lies with parents and caregivers and it’s their prime and sacred duty and responsibility to make sure the child is safe at all times and will not have the opportunity to fall prey to a sex offender. It’s not the child’s responsibility.


We need to answer our children’s curiosity and questions honestly and factually. Better still, tell them before they ask. Let’s not leave them to find out from friends who would be equally ignorant or, by themselves, in Google searches, etc., which can easily take them on dangerous paths. Let it come from safe, reliable, factual, and scientific sources, like school. They’ll be stronger and less vulnerable for that. Ignorance is not bliss anymore. For that cause, Let the ‘Ape Hathe potha’ come to schools without any further hindrance.


Citizen S


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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