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I never knew sex would ruin my life

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I have been meaning to write about this for a long time.  Here is the scene.

Location: A private hospital in Ipoh, maternity ward.

Time: 7 30 p.m.

3 groups of people watching the same scene.

1st group, me , my mum and my youngest son aged 10.

2nd group a mum n her son aged around six.

3rd group a little girl and her parents.

A young girl was being pushed in a bed towards the maternity ward. She was about 16, and she was screaming in pain. All the kids in the vicinity were turning their heads and looking in the direction of the sound. All faces full of curiosity.

I think my son is the one who started first, he was asking my mum, “amachi”  why is that “akka” crying, her tummy is big, is she going to have a baby? My mum’s answer was an unbelievable one, this is what happens when little girls don’t obey their parents, you are still young, and you will understand when you are much older. I know he was not too happy with that answer, he looked confused but he let it go. I promised him, I will explain it to him when we get home.

Then I heard the six year old boy asking his mum, what happen to that aunty, she looks like “che che” only but u said only married people can have babies. How do women get babies into their tummy? Can I have a baby too. That “che che” had a lot of bananas, apples and oranges to eat. So now she is having a baby. Come mummy buy you a drink, let’s go. Cleverly the mum changed the topic and left.

The little girl was asking her father, abah abah why is the kakak crying so loud, will the doctor cut her tummy and take out the baby. Was that how I was born, again a clever answer to escape. Your teacher will teach you when you are in school.

Three different families, 3 different races and from 3 different walks of life but all are with 1 same issue. They are uncomfortable to talk about sex to their children, education should start from home. Why are we shy to talk to our kids and answer all their questions.

It’s best to start talking with children about sexuality in early childhood but it’s never too late to start even right now. Try to be open and available when your child wants to talk. Start conversations with “teachable moments”. Don’t let fear get in the way of talking with your children.

We want our children to have healthy and rewarding lives. And we know that teaching them about sex is very important. But for many of us, it’s hard to talk about sex especially with our own children.

Understanding sexuality helps kids cope with their feelings and with peer pressure. It helps them take charge of their lives and have a loving relationships. It also helps protect them from sexual abuse and from becoming sexual abusers.

Home can be the most meaningful place to learn about sexuality. We can help our kids feel good about their sexuality from the very beginning. Then they will be more likely to trust us enough to ask questions about sex later on during their teenage years.

Based on police reports, over 100 babies were abandoned in 2010, many of them left by teenagers and students. This figure could have risen since many such incidents go unreported, police say.

The phenomenon is tragic… Malaysia has a First-World information infrastructure that could be readily harnessed to educate the youth on reproductive and sexual health, especially in secondary schools.

Some still believe that sex education in schools would encourage teenage sexual promiscuity. “The best way to resolve this phenomenon is to instill greater Islamic/Religious values in young people. They think that sex education was unnecessary because students are already getting Islamic and moral education. To these people I have but 1 question to ask them, then how come “We keep hearing about unwanted teenage pregnancies and newborn babies found in garbage cans.”

The government’s policy on sex education is far from clear. But amid a debate on unwanted teenage pregnancies, it has formed a committee to look into whether to teach sex education in classes. While some aspects of reproductive system are taught in science classes, there is little or nothing on sex, much less safer sex.

Malaysian society is more focused on condemning and punishing sexual behaviour among youth and not on understanding and helping. A judgemental approach that focuses on penalties, more than a frank, accurate and educational one, does not really reach young people effectively.

We must face up and resolve to teach or to ignore (sex education), because ignorance is behind the number of unplanned pregnancies and abandoned babies.

As a result, young people are turning to their peers or the Internet for information about sexuality. But “such information is sketchy at best, probably romanticised and does not help young people make the right and safe decision.

“We cannot to ignore the challenges teenagers face. We have to teach, guide, and help them to make the right decisions.

Most young mothers did not even know they were pregnant even after they stopped menstruating. Research also showed that some girls could not even distinguish between their urethral and vaginal openings.

There are no specific policy or programme in place to help teenagers deal with unwanted pregnancies.Yet there are clearly implications for the future of girls and young women. There is a lot of social stigma against unwed mothers that may lead young girls to unsafe abortions, to backdoor practices that can threaten their lives. It can have a huge emotional and psychological impact on a girl who feels she has no other choice but to destroy her baby or give the baby up at birth.

Teenagers are less likely to take sexual risks if they have

Ø  a positive view of sexuality

Ø  information that they need to take care of their sexual health

Ø  clarity about their own values and an understanding of their families’ values

Ø  self-esteem and self-confidence

Ø  interpersonal skills, such as assertiveness and decision-making abilities

Ø  a sense that their actions affect what happens to them and people around them

Ø  a connection to home, family, and other caring adults in their community, school and religious institution

It’s best to start as soon as children begin getting sexual messages. And they start getting them as soon as they’re born. Children learn how to think and feel about their bodies and their sexual behaviour from things we do and say, from the way we hold them, talk to them, dress them, teach them the words for their body parts, give them feedback on their behaviour, and behave in their presence.

Some parents look forward to talking with their children about the wonders of human reproduction and human sexuality.  But many find it difficult to talk about important topics like relationships and sex and sexuality. The good news is that, if we pay attention, we can find many everyday moments in our lives that can prompt conversations about these topic.

I think this has been a long post and I do not wish to make it even longer. In my next post I will share the story of this girl whom I met in the hospital and of another teenage sibling whom I met. Hope their experience will be a good lesson on how important sex education is.

Let us work together and teach the right things to our children.  – VENUS