Written by Eve Bandusena | Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant
On Why Educating Our Kids When They’re Young Is Better Than Later
“Parents need to start educating their children on sexual reproductive health early so they are well informed. If you don’t teach your children about sex and sexuality, they will learn about it elsewhere and it might not be the right information. You may also lose the opportunity to instil family values that is crucial and critical in addressing from the start.”
This is the resolute belief of Daphne Iking, one of Malaysia’s celebrated personalities whose driven work in child activism hits close to home.
“I am a mother of 3 children and I am a child activist. I know the reality from the ground up,” she says, “Children are sexually active at a younger age. Many minors have access to drugs and this raises the opportunity for children to experiment with sexual intercourse at such a young age.”
“There is no data to prove this, but in many cases where children run in conflict with the law, these cases are drug-related, and this is horrible, to say the least.”
She continues sharing the many hard-hitting realities she’s encountered while working as a child activist.
“We have this case where a pregnant 9-year-old girl was brought in. We were worried she was a victim of no consent. Rape.”
However, things took a shocking turn.
“The counsellors found out that it was ‘consensual’ or, ‘suka sama suka’. Whether she was groomed to ‘enjoy’ the sexual relations, we don’t know at the time of the interview. The boyfriend is a minor too. Legally, this falls under statutory rape.” She said.
“This is why I continue doing what I do. Even if it means I need to bang tables to be heard.”
Forgoing Cultural Taboos & Telling Them Like It Is
When asked about why these conversations about children’s private parts are culturally considered to be “untouchable” and “off the table” for most families, Daphne gives her honest take on it.
“We have an Asian culture that doesn’t really ‘communicate’. Children are seen but not heard. Communication is a two-way process and we need to strip away the notion that ‘children don’t understand anyway’. You’d be surprised how intelligent a young brain is.”
According to Daphne, opening and starting a dialogue with one’s children regarding these sensitive issues do more good than harm in the long run.
“We need to break down taboos and be more open in discussing delicate topics like sexual health and our reproductive system. Many say talking sex education will encourage promiscuity. I beg to differ,” she contests.
“Equip a child with the right knowledge, tools, and access to a safe communication space. If parents are open and truthful, it is more likely that the child would turn to them if he or she has any doubts or questions about any issue.”
As for the persisting conundrum of should, we assign nicknames for them or, call the private parts as they are? Daphne shares that she used to refer to her children’s private parts as something else, but realized why it’s important to tell them like it is.
“Let’s say a mother calls her child’s vagina, ‘karipap’. If someone touches her privates inappropriately, and the young child says ‘mama, someone touched my karipap,’ it doesn’t cause alarm. But if she taught the child to say vagina, “Mama, someone touched my vagina”. This would immediately ring your attention.”
The sad truth is as parents we could miss it as it happens right under our noses.
Furthermore, children who are informed about their bodies can accurately describe what is happening to them and are less likely to be misled by someone who tries to tell them they are touching them for some non-sexual reason.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. At Parents Avenue, we strongly recommend all our readers to seek medical advise from your local hospital or clinic. Thank you.
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