Sex Education: Whose Responsibility Is It?


Article by: Mourine Achieng'

Publication date:

It amazes me that although we are all a product of sex, we are extremely uncomfortable talking about it to our children, or anyone for that matter.

On the rare occasion that a child asks "the dreaded question" about where babies come from, parents are usually quick to dismiss this with a cold stare, a random chore, or, if they pull it off, a white lie. They fail to recognise that this is their moment to set the record straight from an early age.

As the children grow older and go to school, parents absolve themselves of the responsibility of teaching them about sex. Somehow, they believe that it's now the teachers’ job. Need I remind you that sex education is not in the curriculum?

Impact of lack of sexual education

Lack of education on this very important subject makes boys and girls prone to pick up the wrong ideas about sex. Quite frankly, they already have. Why do you think most boys and even men hyper-sexualise women? And then, there is the issue where some men feel entitled to sex. Somehow, sex is a man’s right, and women are supposed to yield to that demand, no matter the circumstances.

There are high chances that men picked these attitudes about sex from the media, pornography sites, and their peers. Because they were not taught in a safe environment, by people who cared about their well-being, they resorted to self-education. Could things have turned out differently if they were educated about sex from an early age?

Because of the same lack of open, honest communication about sex, some women are stuck at the idea that they are just “instruments” to satisfy men’s sexual desires. To many women, they are doing a man a favour by giving consent to sex. It’s rarely about their own sexual needs. That’s why you’ll often hear a woman saying, “He used me,” when a relationship breaks. The idea of being used comes up because some women are not aware that they are supposed to enjoy intimacy, much in the same way as their partners. So, they work overtime, faking orgasms if need be to bolster their partner’s ego.

Shockingly, 80% of women fake orgasm. Somehow, they’ve been conditioned to believe that gratifying their men’s desire is their primary role. Their sexual needs should be peripheral.

Simple steps to demystify sex talk

It’s high time parents disassociate shame from sex when talking to their children about it. To help demystify this topic, let’s consider the biological nature of sex for a moment. Human existence depends on sex. That’s why a normal adult craves sex. It’s in our DNA to seek, want, have, and enjoy sex. There is nothing embarrassing about this. Think of it like drinking water to live. That's exactly what sex is. Without it, the human species will be nonexistent.

Therefore, as a parent, starting sex conversations from this perspective will help you explain to your child this "taboo subject" without the shame associated with it. Besides, the conversation about sex education goes beyond sexual activity. Other topics like sexual relationships, gender identity, sexual reproduction, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, reproductive rights and responsibilities, and sexual abuse are part and parcel of it. If you widen your scope, you’ll have more to talk about.

How to get that sex talk started

It’s good to create a comfortable atmosphere for your child to talk about sex from an early age. Young children between 2-3 years of age are curious about their body parts. If they interact with children of the opposite gender, they are also curious about their body parts. So, how do you handle these conversations with these young ones?

Use correct names of body parts: Many parents think that using the proper name of different sexual organs teaches the child bad manners; it doesn't. It’s okay to say penis, vagina, or breast when explaining concepts associated with these parts. This will pass the message that these are normal parts of the body, and it’s healthy to talk about them.

Explain things at their level: A six-year-old wouldn’t want a prolonged explanation of how fertilisation occurs. But a simple explanation that mum’s eggs and dad’s seeds come together to make a baby will make more sense.

Get both parents in on the conversation: Dads are notorious at evading these conversations. Please be part of the talk. Your child will feel more comfortable talking about sexuality and their body. They’ll be better placed to take responsibility for their sexual feelings and talk to you about their intimate relationships when they grow older. In the case of sexual abuse or any suspicious behaviour, they’ll have the confidence to tell you.

If you need to, say “I don’t know”: If you are too embarrassed to talk about a particular question, you can tell your child you don’t know and get back to them at a later date when you are comfortable to talk about it.

Start a conversation: If your child is too shy to start a conversation about sex education, take the initiative and introduce the topic. But don’t start the topic out of the blue. You can bring it up after watching the news about early pregnancy or anything that would warrant a conversation on the topic.

Freely talking to your children about sex helps them embrace their sexuality. They’ll grow up knowing that sex and sexuality are healthy parts of life. Teachers will only supplement your teaching. And in case of peer pressure or social media, you would have already built the foundation they need to make informed choices.