Children become aware of their sexuality from a very young age, though most of us do not seem to give it the attention or the importance that it deserves. Instead we get worried to see our five year old indulge in games like playing doctor or imitating “mummy, daddy” that involves sexual related themes. Contemporary India is still uncomfortable talking about sex. Parents find it against our social or cultural values to talk about sex with their children.

At the same time the present age generation has much more exposure and much more access to sex related information: from peer groups, from magazines, films and the Internet. Unfortunately, though they may know a lot about sex, contraception and other related issues, they are still too young to know how to handle both the emotional and the physical aspect of sex.

A rise in sexual abuse of children, of teenage pregnancies and of sex related crimes makes it all the more important for us to impart sex education at school so that we can protect our children from unwanted trauma and harm that inadequate knowledge about sex can bring.

Sex Education is not just about the act of sex or how we can protect ourselves from unwanted pregnancies, it encompasses a wider perspective including attitudes towards the opposite sex, about gender roles, about body changes and about taking responsibility of our sexual choices and of our sexual partner. It is a positive part of personal health and healthy living.

Though India had a rich and free sexual environment in its past, as is evident from the existence of books like the Kama Sutra, the temples of Khajuraho with their explicit sexual sculptures and with temple concubines living as a part of our ancient society, today’s India is much more confused about its stand on sex. Though we are one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to population, we shy away from talking about sex.

Perhaps it is this lack of awareness and unwillingness on part of parents and teachers to talk to children about sex that we have such high rates of mortality among young mothers during childbirth who are themselves but mere girls who have just stepped into their teens. We have illegal abortion centre’s catering to ignorant adolescent clients who get into a sexual relationship without adequate awareness or preparedness.

The social conditioning in India is such that young and single women who feel they are ready for sex are uncomfortable to approach a doctor or a health worker to know how they can practice safe sex. Often they resort to abortion as a means of family planning spoiling their health at a young age.

The current dangers of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases particularly AIDS is another compelling reason for having sex education in schools. Unprotected sex may not only lead to unwanted parenthood, they may also spread diseases besides causing irreparable emotional damage to the young minds.

Unnatural suppression of this sexual desire has led to promiscuous behaviour among the youth leading to sexual crimes like rapes and child abuse. Sex education can help children realize the difference between an affectionate hug and a wanton touch. Not talking about sex gives children a notion that sex is bad or evil. This indirectly affects the future married and family lives of these children who may find it difficult to accept sex as natural expression of love between couples when they always believed that sex was a bad word.

Since most parents find it difficult to talk about the birds and bees with their children, the school with due support from the parents can fulfill this important role of providing sex education and guiding the future generation of their role in society and family as sexual beings.