The imparting of sex education at different stages and levels has been a subject of debate since long. However, in the conservative environment of Indian society, this matter has failed to gain a definite educational response. In our country, sexual health education is not only absent at the school and college levels but is a grossly neglected subject even in the curricula of medical institutions.
As a result, sexual dysfunctions are often misinterpreted and the regular treatment of any malfunctioning involves prescribing one of the ever increasing plethoras of drugs, or the ayurvedic sex tonics. It seems to be doing more harm than good.
As far as the appropriate period for providing sexual health education is concerned, there is no fixed or definite time to start the process. Informal sex education can be started at any time, when the child’s curiosity makes him/her receptive to conceptual inputs. As the child grows, imparting knowledge appropriate for his/her age would be the right approach.
Without conscious volition, parents provide sex education to the child from the moment of birth.
The ways in which parents hold, touch, care for the child during infancy and the ways in which they interact between themselves and with the child lays the foundation for his/her further sexual conditioning. Making the child accept his/her gender and also giving him/her love has a profound influence in shaping his/her attitude towards sex and sexuality.
The everyday communication and interaction patterns of the family influence the child’s sense of self-esteem, body image, gender role and family roles and positively shape his/her capacity for love, intimacy and sharing.
As far as formal education is concerned, sporadic work in area has been done in a modest way. Educationists have been making conscious effort include relevant contents and suitable strategies in respect of sexual health education into the curriculum.
The National Curriculum for Elementary and Secondary Education brought out by the NCERT as follow-up of National Policy on Education 1986 states that this dimension deserves careful attention of the curriculum organiser so as to make adequate provisions for inculcation among adolescents “healthy attitudes towards sex and members of opposite sex”.
We are aware that some aspects of sex education particularly of physical components have been incorporated in the syllabi and some of the textbooks developed by the NCERT as well as some States Governments.