By Feenzu Sherpa: Since most parents, guardians, and teachers relate sex education with the very act of sex, teaching kids about consent becomes a complicated subject. It’s not easy to teach children about consent, but it is crucial that they know and understand the difference between right touch and wrong touch.
When parents and other caretakers of a child avoid talking about sex as well as reproductive health, it forces the child to suffer in silence if and when they are sexually exploited. Not to forget that the victim’s silence becomes the assailant’s weapon.
Many kids, regardless of their gender, are often sexually assaulted by their family members at a very young age. Such kids often tend to suppress the trauma for want of a safe space to talk about it. Others don’t even understand if they were sexually abused.
A research by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says, “Survivors of childhood sexual abuse suffer from mental problems such as anxiety and depression, self-neglect, and eating disorders. Adults abused as children are four to five times more likely to abuse alcohol and illicit drugs.”
Saliza Shrestha, founder of Touch Nepal, an organization that works to teach children about consent said, “Our society is plagued by a worsening epidemic of sexual violence, and as a victim of sexual assault myself, I feel compelled to do everything in my capacity to change that.”
“Currently, I and my team are visiting schools in rural areas, teaching about good touch and bad touch. We have to be selective with our words so that our teaching doesn’t affect the children’s mental condition,” she said.
“If a child comes to us with complaints of sexual assault — like any one touching their private parts in absence of other people — we first try to obtain details and then file a legal complaint against the deviants. Till date, we have taught around 600 students about consent,” she informed.
According to a report by the UK-based Aberystwyth University titled Children’s Sexual Health Education, “Early sex education should be delivered preferably from grade seven to avoid the effects of media and internet. Sexual health education teachers should be trained properly to mitigate the social and cultural impact which allows a smooth discussion in the classroom.”
Sarala Adhikari, a volunteer working for welfare of children said, “Adolescent period is right age to teach children about consent, but the sooner they know about good touch and bad touch, the better it is for them. Children will be able to speak up against their abusers if they are educated about consent. Young girls can be empowered through the same.”
“I believe if young girls are taught about consent, they will at least be vocal about the sexual assault meted out to them in their own house by known faces. Those innocent kids can approach to their families or teachers. Taking action against the assailants will also be easier and swift.”
Healthy conversation about consent, sex, and reproductive health with kids in schools as well as home plays a vital role in empowering young kids.