Helping parents talk to kids about sex

The Jakarta Post | Mon, 06/18/2012 08:07 AM | Lifestyle

The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) is developing a sexuality education program for parents that it aims to roll out by the end of the year.

The group placed an advertisement on its website last month for a curriculum director who will formulate a program to help parents better communicate with their children about sex.

This comes three years after its program for secondary school students was suspended by the Ministry of Education. Its manual for course instructors was then criticized for promoting homosexuality and implying approval of pre-marital sex.

Following the controversy, the ministry moved to vet more closely sexuality education programs offered in schools by external vendors.

Aware executive director Corinna Lim said the group is starting this project because it noticed that many parents here are not discussing sexuality issues with their children. This is despite the Government placing primary responsibility for sex education on parents, she pointed out.

She cited hotline calls that Aware receives from girls who have been sexually assaulted or abused. They are unwilling to go to the police, as they do not want their parents finding out that they are sexually active.

‘Most parents we’ve spoken to are uncomfortable with the topic,’ Lim told The Straits Times.

Carol Balhetchet, director of youth services at the Singapore Children’s Society, agrees that ‘most parents (here) feel a bit awkward talking about sex with their children’.

Lim said Aware had not decided whether to use material from its previous program for the new project. The group is still in the preliminary stages of developing content. A study will be conducted to gather parents’ views.

But the upcoming project will accommodate and respect the views of the different ethnic and religious communities on sexuality issues, said Lim.

The group will seek advice from organizations running similar programs in other Asian countries.

It does not expect to work with the MOE on its upcoming program for parents.

Aware currently runs sex education courses for students in one ‘major’ international school here, said Lim. But she declined to name the school.

She said the group would be more public this time regarding its program.

‘There was so much misinformation before, so it’s better if we are public about it,’ she said.

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