Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Degrees of information

The Straits Times reports on an increase in statutory rape cases (full text in comments), sparking the usual furore over teen sexuality. I would like to put in a Magical word here about sex education.

Unless you padlock your child in a barrel and throw away the key, the kid is receiving some variant of sex education, whether you like it or not. Every television show or street advertisement, countless conversations with parents, teachers and friends, to say nothing of the Internet, are presenting information of some kind - often simply in the form of assumptions - about sexuality.

Womanist Musings makes this point well.
And I really want to know where the idea came from that you DIDN'T teach sexuality (and gender identity) to your 5, 8, 10, 14 (or however old you think is too frail to hear about the GBLT folk) year old?

Do they have a mother and father? A grandmother and grandfather? Aunts and uncles? How many couples do they know, how many husbands and wives in nicely matched pairs? How many boyfriends and girlfriends?

How many times have you spoken about "when they grow up?" How many times does that involve a partner of the opposite gender? Ever spoken about future wives/husbands? [...]

We teach sexuality from the cradle, from the very second they open their eyes we force these lessons on our children. But for some of our kids, those lessons are just plain wrong, and for the rest they just teach them that we don't exist.

You already teach kids sexuality - but you don't tell them the whole story and that ignorance can hurt all of them - and it certainly hurts us.
We can indulge in the fantasy that children will remain blank canvases of purity and innocence if we do our best to maintain their ignorance, but this is behaviour reminiscent of my ostrich cousins. In truth, children are already receiving information about sexuality - whether it is heterosexuality or homosexuality or any other kind - and forming impressions about appropriate ways in which theirs should be expressed, or suppressed, or reviled. They need information, and confidence, and support: not judgment.

Related links from the farm here, here and here.


  1. Straits Times story:

    WHILE the overall crime cases reported last year decreased by 0.4 per cent, cases involving housebreaking, theft and statutory rape are on the upswing.

    Statutory rape cases involving female minors under 14 years who had consensual sex rose 36.1 per cent from 61 in 2008 to 83 cases in 2009.

    Boyfriends, friends and acquaintances formed the bulk of the culprits in the cases as in previous years, said police who released the 2009 figures at their annul crime briefing on Monday.

    To address this growing trend, police will step up training sessions, workshops, programmes and crime awareness talks that are already in place, as well as embark on several intervention initiatives.

    For example, police extended its talks to social services networks last year to widen its reach and create a greater awareness on the legal and social consequences of teenage sex, to dissuade the young from such acts.

    Police urge the community, schools, parents, and media to play a role in educating youth against under-aged sex.

    Families, in particular, are advised to pay more attention to the activities of their teenage children as most of the perpetrators in such cases are known to the victims.

  2. Thanks for the great writing on this important issue!

    To add my 2-cents, I think there's 2 aspects to this whole issue

    One is the fact that we need PROPER sex ed that equips the students with useful knowledge & SKILLS to make/practice healthy behaviors, rather than scaring/moralising & leaving them ignorant and powerless still

    The 2nd aspect is the way society expects females to be the 'gatekeeper' of 'moral behavior', while normalising promiscuous/irresponsible behavior for males. By doing this, the below-14s(read:CHILD) is victimised by the media.

    The cases of concern, as some articles pointed out, are when both parties are underaged. Yet the media headlines the teenage girls, but not the boys, when both parties are involved. Education for BOTH sexes, and responsible,healthy behavior for BOTH sexes need to be emphasized.

    Normalising promiscuous/irresponsible male sexual behavior subtly says to teen boys that 'It's OK' for you to act that way, because it's the job of the girls to say 'No'.

    The media also continues to suggest how underaged girls should be faulted for initiating/seducing/allowing ADULT male 'victims' into breaking the law, as if these adult males should be excused from responsibility or knowing right from wrong, because it is natural for males to act this way.

    ( I am referring to the way this report by Rachel Chan in particular was writen



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