The workshop booklet can be viewed here
The workshop booklet can be viewed here
Young individuals of today spend more time interacting with multiple forms of media, including the Internet compared other activities. 95% of today’s youth is online, and 74% of them are able to access the Internet from a personal mobile device. Clicking on screens and speaking into our mobiles and tablets readily retrieve information. It’s fast, it’s easy. Information has become ubiquitous in today’s technology-saturated world. But how much of that information is trustworthy? Combine that with the fact of kids being naturally curious about sex and wanting to find out as much as possible and discuss with their peers, and we have a big problem to deal with here. Modern sexuality education and the values imposed by our culture have continuously refrained from accepting the existence of all the exposure children are receiving today.
When a child comes across extremely graphic images or videos online, it can be both stimulating and upsetting. An unexpected encounter with highly provocative sexual material crosses boundaries and compromises innocence. As stimulating as it can be for kids to see graphic sexual material, it can also be overwhelming and even frightening. The association may often be direct, between one’s exposure to sexually explicit material and one’s sexual attitude and behavior.
Either we allow sexually explicit material online to be the sex educator of the youth today, or we take the responsibility on ourselves. For the latter to happen, we must clearly outline the existence and meaning of pornography and sexually explicit material, differentiate between porn sex and real sex, examine the frameworks of sexuality and its ethics, and exchange views on the idea of right and wrong in the context of sexual activity.
We invited a few of our peers and asked them to read out some general facts about sex. None of them knew what they were going to be reading. We captured their reactions on camera.
But apart from all the awkwardness and the laughter involved, there are other reasons behind the making of this video. Their reactions show that talking out loud about these topics is not the most comfortable thing to do, even though they were speaking these words before their own friends, even though these statements are facts, adults of their age should know (that is if they knew what all they were saying).
And beyond the kind people who spared time to participate, some of the ones watching this for the first time might just hear something they haven’t heard before, in a ‘more fun than biology class’ way.
But the bottom line is, why should it be so embarrassing?
We had sent out two surveys to everyone we know back at the start of October; one to be filled by the ‘children’ (between the ages of 13 and 25 years old) and the other to be filled by the ‘parents’. In total, over 400 individuals filled out these surveys. The responses we got shed even more light on why sex and sexuality need to be taken out of this dingy, dark abyss of shame and ignorance.
When we read the statements above it’s evident that most parents needed an external trigger to start this conversation; a conversation that wasn’t held as much as it just happened (fortunately!). Why should “the talk” require to be an ice breaking session between parents and their children? Why should we even throw in quotation marks and place this topic on a pedestal cursed with taboo in the first place?
Here we see what the children have to say about the talk. From their general tone of speaking, certain things are very clear. Their sarcasm shows regret for all the lost opportunities of having a discussion, and for all the discomfort they felt during the discussions that did take place. There is a sense of defiance that points towards a big
difference in the opinions of the two respective generations. And in the minority that did seem to be able to speak to their parents openly, we see gratitude and confidence.
Also, we must spare a few moments of utmost empathy for the ones who were supposedly expected to learn from porn! Parents, please; children need correct information and good guidance.
Half of these children wouldn’t ask their parents, two thirds of them wouldn’t ask their teachers. The result? The internet is the most trusted source, followed by their peers.
But the point to note here is that the most trusted sources of information are not the most reliable ones.
In other shocking news, there are many individuals that have wrong information regarding the spread of STIs, even though our country’s education system seems to promote the teaching of topics like contraception and safe sex. A third of them believe that oral sex cannot cause STIs, almost a third of them believe that abstinence can cause them and one fourth of them believe that oral contraceptives can keep them safe from these diseases. At least the topics that are being taught should be taught very well, shouldn’t they? It seems not.
So the bottom line is, we need to start having ‘the talk’, and it should not be such a big deal for everyone. If personal stories don’t alarm you, the numbers surely ought to. We need good sex and sexuality education, now.
The stakeholders involved in the system of sex education can be divided into three groups – facilitators, givers and receivers.
Facilitators aid communication between the giver of sex ed and the receivers of information. They generate content, suggest methods, formulate policies and design frameworks for the flow of information.
Givers are responsible for the direct dissemination of information with the receivers. Their role is to impart sex education is to impart sex education in the most effective and objective manner.
Receivers make up the general population which needs sex education.