Cries for sex education grow louder

Email Print 20 September 2012 | last updated at 12:07AM

By Chok Suat Ling | sling@nst.com.my 0 comments

PEOPLE throw all manner of things from the balconies of apartments — used tissues, cigarette butts, and perhaps the occasional flowerpot.
There have also been news reports of sofas and other furniture, as well as hapless pet kittens and puppies, being thrown from a considerable height.
In Mobile, the United States, recently, a pet dog named Lola was thrown from the third-storey balcony of an apartment. The pup miraculously survived.
Not so fortunate was a newborn baby girl flung out from one of the upper floors of the Desa Mentari flats in Petaling Jaya last Sunday. The baby died of severe head injuries and her unmarried mother, who allegedly gave birth on her own, has been remanded to facilitate police investigations.
This latest case of baby dumping — or more accurately, hurling — may be gut-churning and heartbreaking, but it’s nothing we have not seen before. Bloody bundled babes have been found not just on pavements, but everywhere else, on the steps of mosques and churches, in garbage bins, the dump, in bushes, orchards and public toilets. Some are found alive, others dead, with or without their umbilical cords, heads or limbs, and are riddled with mosquito and ant bites. And then, there are those discovered crushed, mutilated or burnt beyond recognition.
Disturbingly, most of the perpetrators are still children themselves. The cases persist despite Herculean efforts by many quarters to educate, create awareness, and offer drop-off points for unwanted babies.
The first baby hatch in the country was set up by non-governmental organisation OrphanCARE two years ago at No. 6, SS1/24A, Kampung Tunku, Petaling Jaya.
The concept is simple — drop off baby, depart and don’t do it again. The main gate is unlocked and no busybodies will be around to ask any questions. A number of babies have been gently dropped off anonymously at the hatch, and adopted.
OrphanCARE has plans to open two more similar centres, one in Kota Baru and the other in Johor Baru, this year, and there are hopes to set up another in Penang next year.
A hatch may be far from an ideal idea, but it is better for a child to end up alive within its safe confines than dead in a dumpster. It is certainly more viable in the short term, and not as messy, as what was proposed by a senator in Dewan Negara not too long ago — castrate the men who make girls pregnant out of wedlock.
A school for pregnant teens has also been set up in Jasin, Malacca, to address social ills affecting Malay teenagers, such as co-habitation and baby dumping.
All these well-meaning efforts aside, however, the most effective solution in the long term is for adults — parents and teachers — to be able to talk to their charges about the birds and the bees without hyperventilating and a surge in blood pressure.
It would be easier to do so with British author Peter Mayle’s graphically illustrated book Where Did I Come From? as a guide, but that was labelled “obscene” and banned earlier this year.
Indeed, in Asian culture, sex is still very much a taboo subject. Parents, with children on the brink of adolescence, find it excruciating to talk to their children about it, what more the teachers.
But this can no longer be. The world is evolving and the young are growing up in a much more complicated age. Teach them well or they will get scraps of information from their peers, YouTube and Facebook. This may prove damaging, and in the long run, very dangerous.
There has been much wrangling, but the authorities remain wary about introducing sex education as a separate subject in school. At present, elements of it are assimilated in various subjects. But even if not as a subject on its own, sexual knowledge and education can still be effectively conveyed to students.
But what this requires from adults is that they overcome their misplaced reticence and self-consciousness. Parents and teachers must find ways of imparting information to children in a way they are most comfortable with. Our kids deserve nothing less.
And it must be stressed to them, too, that wearing V-neck and tight T-shirts, as well as having muscular bodies, does not make them sexual deviants. Brad Pitt and Arnold Schwarzenegger wear V-necks and have ripped biceps, and so does that epitome of machismo, Chuck Norris.

Read more: Cries for sex education grow louder – Columnist – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/cries-for-sex-education-grow-louder-1.145948#ixzz274NzYxTQ

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