Open Discussion With Jaipurites: ‘Sex Education Among Teens Is Not A Teeny Tiny Issue Anymore’
- IWB Post
- November 19, 2016
Campaign ‘Teeny Tiny’ has come to its last stop. And the last stop is fascinating if we ponder upon it. It was a panel discussion on sex education and sexuality, and a lot of other ‘make you blush’ talks! But no more blushing and shying away from these sensitive topics.
This discussion held among a group of people including – the very fluent Urvashi Warman (Principal, The Palace School), Dr. Viniita Jhuntrraa (Gynecologist, Vivan Hospital), Dr. Saatiish Jhuntrraa (Sexologist and sex-counselor, Vivan Hospital), JWB Blogger-in-Chief Lavanya Bahuguna, my mother, Mrs. Renu Singhal, and Moi! Read below the conversation over a breakfast held at the (great) Indian Coffee House (I just said it to dramatize). Moving on.
Me: Let’s start with the most important – Sex education.
Dr. Saatiish: I prefer to use the term ‘Education of Human Sexuality’. This term manages to cover every sensitive topic.
Me: Alright! As a parent mom, what do you think is the right time to discuss sex and sexuality with your child?
Renu Singhal: I would choose the right time, and with this I mean when the child is comfortable and willing to listen to me. If I sense his/her discomfort, I’ll stop. I did the same with you, remember?
Dr. Viniita: But if your child asks, never give lame answers. Try to satisfy her queries.
Urvashi Warman: I think it should start at an early age when your child becomes aware of her body parts. Even the parent should be comfortable in talking about matters such as these! Often children ask questions and parents give weird answers. Hence, a mutual connection should be established to make children aware.
Me: Mom, why don’t you share with everyone how you told about it? It’s rather funny.
Renu Singhal: I tried to talk to Avantika when she was 15, but she would always scrunch her face and shy away. One fine day I realized she got to know few things from her friends at school. And then I thought to use this opportunity, step in and pour out everything I wanted her to know (laughs). But above all this, I looked at her comfort first!
Dr. Saatiish: Absolutely! Moreover, parents should be comfortable too because children will ask ALL kinds of questions, and not knowing the meaning and implication of the same can prove to be dangerous for their growth.
Me: But isn’t everything available on the internet?
Dr. Saatiish: The Internet is misleading. It gives vague information, and some sites provide wrong scientific facts. Many myths spread through the web.
Me: But still sometimes inaccurate images pop-up on the internet which the kid might see!
Renu Singhal: There are softwares available in the market that can restrict the content parents don’t want their children to see. However, as the saying goes – Forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest. What you tell your kids not to do will definitely be done by them.
Me: Coming back to the right age of discussing ‘sex,’ what if the child receives information before the ‘appropriate’ time? Can parents/teachers prevent that?
Dr. Saatiish: Absolutely not! In the era of technology and exposure, we cannot.
Urvashi Warman: We need sex education before we start improving it. It’s almost nonexistent. Our school has been deciding to take the initiative to start sex ed. Before that, we will be holding an orientation program for parents, notifying them about what and why we will be discussing with their children. We shall make sure that all these orientations are conducted by trained people who can speak on these issues. Comprehensive Sexuality Education should be mandatory.
Me: What is the reaction of Jaipur going to be if every school suddenly starts teaching about sex and sexuality?
Urvashi Warman: We don’t want anyone to freak out or be shy. This is why we want to hold orientations to teach parents the importance of sex education. This will make parents ease down on the issue, at that, making them comfortable sending their kids to such classes.
Me: As a medical professional, suggest parents few ways to teach children the difference between safe and unwanted touch?
Dr. Viniita: Complete knowledge in children could prevent many crimes and harassments that are irreparable. First, educating your child is crucial. They should know the difference between safe and unwanted touch and be able to tell it to you.
Secondly, parents should always believe their children. Many a time, children want to tell us something important, and we brush them off, thinking it’s not relevant. Third, children and parents should communicate openly. Be friends with them!
Dr. Saatiish: And if you notice a change in the child’s behavior, then you should be alarmed. Effective parenting is important. Spending time and talking to your kids is effective. ‘Sunday Uncle’ syndrome is when children see their fathers ONLY on Sundays! Don’t let this happen in your family.
Renu Singhal: Also, parents should not be judgmental. That is only when the child will be comfortable enough to talk about almost ANYTHING with their fathers or mothers. Today Avantika shares every little detail of her life with me because I don’t scold and punish her.
Urvashi Warman: Surveys say that children have suffered maximum sexual abuse from their closest family members and known people. We, teachers, are trained to notice the monotonous changes in the behavior of the child in case he/she has been traumatized.
Me: Wow, I didn’t know this! Teachers are awesome.
Me: Now let’s jump on the hot topic – gender identification. When people recognize themselves as gay/lesbian, why do we blame them and say they have ‘converted’ themselves?
Dr. Saatiish: Science has proved that sexual preference comes from birth. It is possible that people may not be aware of their orientations until they reach adolescence. That’s why we witness cases where the husband is not able to have sex with his wife because he realizes he is a gay after marriage!
Renu Singhal: So that means, everything is genetic.
Dr. Saatiish: 100 percent.
Me: I have got friends who are gay, but some teenage friends don’t understand them.
Dr. Saatiish: I hope they will because your gay friends are just natural as you are! Ask them to stand for who they are.
Urvashi Warman: Teens, be correctly informed. Don’t trust the internet or people with partial knowledge. Consult a proper authority if you have any query. Don’t get caught up in this deceitful web of myths.
Dr. Saatiish: Teens are engaging in pre-martial sex, and there is no one to tell them what is right and what is wrong. It’s quite dangerous. The pre-martial sex can result in teenage pregnancy and STD.
Dr. Viniita: Teens nowadays love going out for dating. They should inform at least someone (if not the parents) as to where they are going. It’s imperative to tell them the dangers if they don’t!
Urvashi Warman: Contemporary activities like sexting are sinister because children don’t know what they are getting themselves into. This is something that did not exist in our time.
[Teen pregnancy & abortion]
Urvashi Warman: It’s a severe issue in Jaipur. Thanks to the easy availability of contraceptive pills, many of them face incomplete abortion and other health problems. These pills and irresponsible pre-martial sex is a disastrous combination. Girls don’t even know the many side-effects of consuming it.
[Message for parents]
Renu Singhal: I feel sad seeing few parents around me who are ignorant of the struggles their children face. They are just like ostriches with their heads buried deep down in the sand.
Dr. Saatiish: When parents ask me about the right kind of parenting, I just ask them one question: “Does your child come to you in times of crisis?” If yes, you are a good parent, else work on your parenting.
All in all, this interview is very important to read and absorb some information from. There are written things that you might not believe in. At one point, the interview got so graphic that my mother had to cover my ears so that I don’t learn anything more than I should know at my age. Haha.
If you are a teen and are reading this, then I suggest that you not only read the lines but also inculcate the message. Every line spoken by them is full of wisdom. ‘Teeny Tiny’ campaign hopes you got to learn a lot from this panel discussion.
Photography by: Nupur Agarwal