Teaching children about sex can equip them with proper knowledge of the consequences attached to sex.

THE beginning of an article published in the New Straits Times recently may have brought back childhood memories and a smile to the faces of some readers.

The article itself was a serious one, but the lead and second paragraphs, though not meant to be funny, may have had that effect. In these two paragraphs, we are told of a statement recorded from a young woman who had been caught after abandoning her newborn.

Though well-educated, the young woman believed that a kiss could make her pregnant but did not know that sexual intercourse could.

It is no laughing matter, of course, but some readers probably couldn’t help but smile or slap their foreheads.

The Christians among us, especially, probably had some memories come rushing back. For those of you who have not read the Bible, the Holy Book is actually quite a racy collection of text.

This is especially so in the Old Testament, which for those unfamiliar with the book, is the part which, simply put, deals with the early history of the world and the Israelites. There are mentions of harlots and concubines, and scenes of rape, seduction and even drunken sex.

As a young child, however, reading the Bible can be a tad confusing when it comes to its mentions of anything sexual. As mentioned, there are tonnes of references to sexual intercourse between two (sometimes more) people, but in many of these references, the language is vague, to say the least.

It is, after all, a religious book containing things written hundreds of years ago. You can’t just say “so-and-so had sex with his/her significant other/concubine”.

The word most often used is “lay”. In the story of Lot, the nephew of Abraham, we are told that his daughters get him drunk after their mother is turned into a pillar of salt and “lay” with him to get pregnant (yes, you read that right... there is incest, too, in the Bible).

Little wonder, then, the confusion among young, impressionable and inexperienced minds; the mere act of lying down with someone can get a woman pregnant (or, “with child” — there was no confusion about that term).

The point here is this: it is not that the Bible is confusing; it is that one of the most important things we need to realise is that education is extremely important.

That education — sex education, that is — is the best thing to stop child sex abuse.

Federal police Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division principal assistant director Assistant Commissioner Ong Chin Lan was quoted as saying that greater awareness of sex crimes was needed to increase vigilance against sexual predators, along with stronger laws as a deterrent for others, such as the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017, which was recently passed in the Dewan Rakyat.

She was also quoted as saying that she believed moral-based teachings needed to be enhanced along with the present academic-based curriculum, and that there was a need to take another look at the approach to sex education in schools.

Others were quoted as supporting the need for a more comprehensive sex education syllabus in schools.

One thing these experts didn’t touch on, though, was the role of parents in all this. This point, in fact, is a very important one, especially taking into consideration how the article began. The woman talked about at the very start of it all had actually been told by her mother, when she was a young girl, that kissing boys could lead to pregnancy.

Sadly, we seem to have forgotten that the very first educators for children are their own parents. It is their parents who teach them their first words, how to hold their bottles, how to “go potty”, brush their teeth, and all other manner of things.

But, sex is a topic that is so taboo in Malaysia that when it comes to teaching our children about the birds and the bees, we tend to shy away or avoid it altogether. We would rather just leave it to schools.

And thanks to this taboo, and the social stigma attached to merely talking about sex, teachers, too, are usually loathe to go into detail, glossing over the subject and dismissing any questions the children may have.

Teaching our children about sex and sex crimes as soon as they are able to grasp the lessons should be the priority for every parent.

Yes, of course, we dread that talk. But, it has to be done, so that we can keep them away from predators and so that they are equipped with proper knowledge of the consequences and responsibilities attached to sex.

And, no. Chances are it will not lead to them being sexually free or promiscuous. Not if it is properly done.

lesliea@nst.com.my

Leslie Andres has more than two decades of experience, much of which has been spent writing about crime and the military. A die-hard Red Devil, he can usually be found wearing a Manchester United jersey when outside of work.

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