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    Expert Talk: Psychologist Tripti Vaid Lists 5 Points To Help Raise Awareness On Sexuality Education Among Adolescents

    Every young person makes life-changing decisions about their sexual and reproductive health at some point in life. Research shows that the majority of adolescents lack the knowledge that is required to make such decisions wisely, thus leaving them vulnerable to abuse, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. There’s a difference between sex education and sexuality education, better known as comprehensive sexuality education. Sex education is more organ oriented whereas sexuality education is more to do with gender roles, responsibilities, one’s wellbeing, how one’s sexuality interacts with the family and community, how does one feel talking about one’s partner, their sexual identity, information on the anatomy and physiology, and so on. 

    In conversation with TC46, Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Psychologist Tripti Choudhary Vaid, discusses sex and sexuality education on a deeper level to understand its true potential and benefits. Here, she also shares 5 points to remember when teaching comprehensive sexuality education to teenagers.

    1. Teach your children about good and bad touch

    Children tend to adapt and learn very easily from a very young age. Parents should start educating their children about good touch and bad touch from age 3. They should also be telling them which parts of their body are private and can’t be touched by strangers. They should be teaching their kids the correct terms for their private parts and not give kiddish names to avoid embarrassment.

    2. Talk about the birds and bees

    The important stakeholders to lead the conversations on sex are the parents and school educators. Even siblings with correct knowledge can help guide the child. But ideally, it should be one of the two parents. There are a lot of references out there to help educate your child on his or her sexuality. There are videos specially made for children to help them understand the good touch and bad touch. There are tons of books available from an organization called ‘Tarshi’, which talks about reproductive and sexual health issues. They have books pertaining to all ages, thus giving your child a much-needed age-appropriate education. They also have books for parents which is a great read for parents and children.

    3. Comprehensive sexuality education is better than porn

    It’s important for teenagers to get the correct information before engaging in sex. It is also essential for them to understand what happens while they are engaging in sex. Children today need comprehensive sexuality education primarily because they have access to a lot of information on the internet, which is mostly and could be incorrect. They receive information from uninformed peers or other sources. Therefore, giving them the right information can save them from a lot of unwanted scenarios, worries and embarrassing situations. It is best if they get information from reliable sources rather than referring to unreliable sources like porn from the internet. It’s highly misguided and partial.

    4. Have a conversation about pornography and masturbation 

    Comprehensive Sexuality Education is not just like a one-off conversation. It has to be done repeatedly, according to the age-appropriateness of the child. And when that is done with the content that they can absorb and assimilate at that particular age, it is not going to seem overwhelming. It is going to become a part of their normal growing up information. It is thereby going to lead them to make much healthier decisions in future. Parents must tell children that masturbation is a great way to connect with your body. It is a pleasurable act, and it is perfectly normal for both genders to do so. It is a healthy sexual relationship with your own body. As far as pornography is concerned, it is not necessarily real. If you see an actor jump from a 500 ft. building, you won’t consider it true because you know that wasn’t shot in reality. Similarly, if you see certain things happening in a porn video, it doesn’t necessarily have to be true. It is shot in an artificial setup, made up and is pure fiction. Pornography also lets adolescents have wrapped ideas about sex. Thus, it’s really important to tell teenagers about how fake porn can be and how it can end up creating body image issues amongst teenagers. 

    5. CSE leads to an open communication between parents and children 

    Children may or may not be able to figure it out on their own. But what they may figure out could be vastly incorrect.  Giving them correct knowledge is a good way to support their overall development. Talking to them about Sexuality Education does not give them the go-ahead to go and do something. And even if they did something they would do anyway, it will help them make the correct steps.Therefore, it is important to tell the child about Sexuality Education. Just as how trees grow from seeds and saplings grow into trees. Children will eventually figure that out as they are taught that in science in school. So why can’t we talk to them about their body and how it impacts their mind space? From a psychological perspective, it’s essential to keep the channels of communication between the parents and their children open. The idea is to not judge them and create a space of comfort where the child/ teenager can feel safe to talk about various sexuality-related issues that he/ she might be facing at any given point in life. In case they mess up, they can always reach out to their parents.

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