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Internet better teacher than parents on sex education

Sex education is a necessity but parents and teachers have been shying away from this responsibility of communicating information on the subject to teenagers, leaving them to rely on ‘unaccountable sources’ such as the internet and peers.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 17, 2015 12:46 IST
Aishwarya S Iyer
Aishwarya S Iyer
Hindustan Times
Children left to their own devices to access internet for answers to their intimate queries (iStock)

Sex education is a necessity but parents and teachers have been shying away from this responsibility of communicating information on the subject to teenagers, leaving them to rely on ‘unaccountable sources’ such as the internet and peers.

Educated middle-class parents in the tricity find it increasingly hard to be able to talk about sex to their children. Aarti Bansal, 40, a Panchkula-based chartered accountant and the mother of 14-year-old Yajur, a Class 9 student at The Gurukul in Panchkula, admits, “I am not comfortable talking to my child about sex, protection and other related issues. I feel like talking to him but hold back as I haven’t been able to develop the necessary rapport.”

Home-maker Seema Kapoor, 44, the mother of 15-year-old Pranav, a Class 10 student at Chandigarh’s St John’s High School, says, “Sex talk is taboo in our society. I don’t know if my son has been taught anything about this in school. We don’t talk about this at all. Given our inhibitions, the internet seems to have become a better teacher than parents.”


Sadly, sex education has not been introduced in school curriculum. UT director, public instruction (DPI), schools, Kamlesh Kapoor says that the academic boards need to take a stand. “The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ISCE) have not conceptualised sex education as a subject in spite of decades of academic experience. This issue needs to be decided after a lot of deliberation, as it has sensitive, regional and religious implications.”

Panchkula district education officer Savitri Sihag says students are not being given much by way of sex education. “We don’t give children any detailed information as of now. ‘Halki phulki jankaari(elementary information)’ is provided in biology or physical education classes in Classes 11 and 12.”

When the subject expert at the State Council of Education Research and Training, Punjab, was asked what was being done to bridge the information gap, Baljeet Kaur Brar said, “We organise an adolescent education programme for government schools from Class 6. We talk to children about sex, HIV/AIDS, drugs, right and wrong touch etc. It happens every year. It’s been happening for four years.”


Psychiatrist Simmi Waraich says sex education should be included as an important part of school curriculum. “It should be introduced in Class 5 where it could be a lighter curriculum and then again in Classes 8 and 10 with different grades.”

On the recent government decision to block public access to 857 porn sites, Dr Waraich said: “Porn is not ideally supposed to be viewed by children as they aren’t mature enough. The negative impact of porn can be curtailed if there is sound judgment in place. However, the absence of sex education along with reluctant and hesitant parents only weakens this foundation leading to trouble.”

Kids left to be on their own when teachers and parents shy away from intimate queries. (Thinkstock)


However, students have a different story to tell. Siddhant Sharma, 19, said, “I’ve studied Classes 11 and 12 at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Zirakpur, and passed out this year to enter college. There was no sex education class or programme organised for us. They taught us a few things in biology and that as far as it went.”

Rajdeep Kaur, 43, a teacher at Yadavindra Public School (YPS), Mohali, says she has been asking for a sex education workshop for years. “There is an urgent need to provide children with information from teachers. We have been asking the management to conduct workshops but they haven’t gone ahead, as other schools in Chandigarh haven’t introduced the concept in the curriculum either.”

The principal of Government Model Senior Secondary School in Chandigarh’s Sector 28, DP Sharma, 59, said certified counsellors have been made available to government schools. “A counsellor is assigned two to three schools and comes twice or thrice a week. However, there is little he/she can do as there are 550 students attending each session and the counsellor has a number schools to go to.”


Students talk about the awkwardness they face while talking on the subject. Yajur, for instance, says, “Parents and teachers are generally not open-minded. They don’t talk to us about sex. We talk to our friends and find they have the same questions.”

Ameesha Rana, 15, a Class 10 student of Holy Child School, Panchkula, says she is too shy to talk to her parents about “these things”. “Teachers aren’t open to discussion either. I rely on my elder sister and the internet to answer my queries,” she says frankly.


The hesitation of parents to talk sex with their children is palpable across age groups. There are a number of websites parents can visit to overcome their reluctance to talk to children on the touchy topic:

First Published: Aug 12, 2015 20:31 IST