Participants at seminar on child sexual crimes unanimously call for introduction of topics that help children know difference between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’.
PETALING JAYA: With the internet replacing parents and teachers as the source of information, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim has agreed it is time the country introduced comprehensive sex education, The Star reported.
Speaking at the Jenayah Seksual Kanak-Kanak: Hentikan!! (Child Sexual Crimes: Stop It) seminar yesterday, Rohani’s support for the call made by all the participants underlined the importance of the topic.
“There’s a need to educate our children because they’re now able to get their answers from the internet. In those days, answers were from parents and teachers, but some subjects, like your body, were taboo to talk about,” Rohani was quoted as saying by the daily.
“Now, children just go straight to Mr Google. All the more reason for my ministry and I to feel that we must teach our children as early as possible – about bad touch and good touch. I think it should be in our education system.”
However, she cautioned over the use of the words “sex education”, saying it was one of the reasons behind the taboo usually associated with the topic and also hindered attempts at educating children and their families.
“Raising awareness and helping parents realise the benefits of sex education are some of the hurdles we have to cross,” Rohani told the participants, according to The Star.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s deputy secretary-general (operations) Dr Waitchalla R R V Suppiah told participants Malaysians were not taking the right approach in dealing with the topic, including how they referred to private parts in their conversations with their children
“I heard some parents use terms like bunga and batang. Bunga mana ini (what kind of flower is this)? If we, as adults, are embarrassed about talking about it, what more children?” she was quoted as saying.
This was a point emphasised by a participant and mother of four, Mariammah Subramaniam.
“It’s part of our culture to be more reserved when it comes to talking about sex. But children are our treasure and we have to protect them, even if it means you have to teach them about these things,” Mariammah said, according to the daily.
On the topic of introducing sex education in schools, Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan said the subject matter was already part of the syllabus in the Moral Studies, Biology and Islamic Studies subjects.
“The ministry is, however, open to suggestions and ideas to further strengthen the syllabus and teaching methodology if the need arises,” The Star quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, Madeleine Yong, the founder of NGO Protect and Save The Children, called for teachers to be trained on the subject of sex education first.
“Fear-based education by untrained teachers will just cause children to turn to the internet for information.
“That’s why we need trained teachers to talk about the subject objectively, and not let it be coloured by their personal feelings,” Yong said.
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