It is a timely discussion. In some time past, a ‘gory’ picture went viral on social media about a female toddler being coerced to perform an unthinkable sexual act with an adult male? I was and still is so bitter about it!
Children are learning about their sexuality all the time, whether or not this is done formally by parents/caregivers or teachers. This learning takes place every day through observing adult relationships around them, and the images they see portrayed in the media about gender, body image and relationships ( Milton, 2000).
For most boys and girls, puberty changes are experienced in primary school. Signs of puberty can commence at 9 years of age and so receiving sexuality and relationships education prior to the onset of puberty ensures boys and girls are prepared for puberty changes and are not embarrassed or frightened by them. (Blake, 2002; Ray & Jolly, 2002).
You see, the truth is that if you don’t teach them about it, someone else will. You just may not appreciate the outcome, especially in the current media boom! If children and young people are not provided with factual information from trusted sources like parents/caregivers and teachers, they are usually vulnerable to receive an often inaccurate and misleading information about sexuality from sources as home helps, peers and the media.
Nigeria’s family structure is being tested here. The reliance on other family/societal/cultural support system is increasingly ineffective. Were they ever really effective in the past? I can’t emphatically say that things are necessarily different today. Certainly, the media revolution is playing a massive role in disseminating news on sexual abuse because we get to hear the news in ‘real’ time!
For those who feel uncomfortable about the topic, be sure you are not alone. It is quite common to feel uncomfortable talking about such abuse; but do not let it deter you from being explicit with those in your care. The acknowledgement of personal discomfort on discussing this is a useful place to begin. You could start by explaining how uncomfortable the topic makes you feel even though it is vital information for their protection. Educators across the country have an important role to play here. We should begin to discuss, plan and implement programs, projects and trainings in sex education for children. Talking and teaching about it often becomes much easier with practice.
If we take a statistics here, we would discover that a good number of people around us were deprived of a blissful childhood by ‘so called’ close relatives, neighbours and home helps. Educate your child and do all to ensure they are safe from lurking sexual predators. Mostly, protect the girl child.