A child, under the law, means a person under 18 years of age. Being human in all respect, the child enjoys all the fundamental human rights as well. One of the rights as encapsulated in the Child Rights Act is the right to education.
What is education? Education refers to all conscious efforts made with a view to harnessing the potentials of individuals. The ultimate goal is to raise citizens of sound moral, spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Education ensures that the society has more positively functional humans and much less of liabilities. This paper will restrict its scope to sex education of the girl child.
Unfortunately, when issue of education is raised, our minds go to the conventional school system. No. Education of any child starts and should start soon after the arrival of the child in the world. That is, the family/home in which a child is born with the parents or guardians has roles to play in the education of the child. For sex education, I wish to observe and it is unfortunate, that in most African homes particularly, the word: ‘Sex’ is like a plague, a taboo word that the child must not hear of. It is not in dispute that the girl child remains the most vulnerable and most abused in any society. Lacking in mental capacity and categorised as the weaker vessel under the law, the girl child faces the dangers of abuse at all levels of her life – at the primary, secondary levels and in every environment. If she is not lured into some kind of perversions in the hostels by the adults, she may be abused by close relations and close friends of her family.
Even teachers/care givers have even been found to be paedophiles. It follows therefore that to curtail incidents of girl child violations, sex education must be introduced ab initio. What then is the best way to go? I am positing that the girl child should be exposed to sex education at home first.
I am just trying to point out here that the parents have much to do in this critical area of education before the girl child moves out to interact with the outside World. Permit me to refer to the Bible. Reading through the Bible, one finds that God never hides the fact of sex. In the same vein, the fact of Sex should not be hidden from the child. The child must learn about sex first from her parents and guardians. There is nothing wrong in teaching a child about her sex organs. Let her know the purpose for which her vagina
is made but that it is for use during marriage only. That her breasts will grow and that they are still for purposes of her and her LAWFULLY wedded husband. A child must be made to know that the use and enjoyment of her private parts/sex organs outside marriage is a No Go. Let the girl child learn your own worldview about sex from you. Otherwise, others (predators as I usually call them) will induct her into their own sex worldview systems.
To prevent infant pregnancy, early marriage, promiscuity, and sexually transmitted diseases, you must educate the girl child about sex. The boy child deserves such exposure as well but in teaching the girl about sex, the male issue will inevitably come to fore. That is, the girl child learns about the male as well during the process.
As from age 0 to about 8, a child should take in as much vital information about sex as much as possible from her parents/guardians. That information or education, according to Child Psychology, will unfold and reflect in her attitude and conduct on assumption of adulthood. See Erik Erikson’s Theory of Development of Ego Identity. The girl child must be taught to know that both male and female and any male or female at all are not permitted to touch her sensitive parts in some particular unwholesome ways. Such training will cause her to shun, by reflex, the watching of any TV shows that portray anything contrary to what she had been taught from the word go and or the reading of any paper with obnoxious sexual information.
Sex education is expedient. It is very essential in helping girl children to understand and appreciate the body structures of males and females and to acquire knowledge about birth. It may shock you to know that up until age 18, I didn’t know what my Daddy and mummy did to have us their children. While boarding in the secondary school far away from home (I left home at age 11), I got bewildered, frightened and terribly embarrassed when, for the first time, I witnessed blood dripping out from my vagina. I was never PREPARED for such an experience. That is a story for another day. Sex education helps the girl child to learn about the roles and responsibilities of her gender in society early enough. To prepare her to be a builder of her nation. Sex education for the Girl child beginning from the point of birth is imperative.
Stella John is a lawyer, a music minister, and chairman, Perezglobal Foundation.