Why Your Children Should Be Learning About Sex And How Durex Is Helping Them Do That
I can’t say I ever remember having a “birds and the bees” talk at any point in my childhood, perhaps I did and blocked it out, out of the sheer awkwardness that I would’ve felt. But what I do remember was the first time I heard about sex. A boy walked up to my desk in grade 3, demanded I up open up my dictionary and search the word “S-E-X”. These were the days before you could just google things, the internet was still dial up, and we had to carry around two dictionaries and a thesaurus in our school bag. No wonder I have such poor posture.
Related: 15 Things My Dad Never Taught Me
Fast forward to near the end of high school and there hadn’t been all that much sex education. I went to an all girl’s religious school, so naturally our sex education went to the extent of “don’t have sex”. Rumour has it the below clip was actually taken during one of only a handful of sexual education classes we ever had:
There are a number of other problems with most sex education in South African schools. Firstly, it’s either way too juvenile. I was shown an animation from around 50 years before I was born of two cats rubbing up against each other… when I was 17. Now, I stand to be corrected, but I’m almost 100% sure that’s not how sex works. Secondly, it’s far too clinical and uses scare tactics. I remember sitting in a Life Orientation class about STI’s and the teacher just blasted image after image of STI’s on the massive wall-sized screen. No one needs to see genital warts in HD. Trust me on this one. Rumour has it this too was from that very same sex ed class:
The topic is largely avoided beyond that.
Clearly, something needs to be done, especially when it comes to the issue around consent – these conversations, in particular, are pivotal in a country that’s been dubbed “the rape capital of the world“.
According to a recent Durex Global Sex Survey, one quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds lost their virginity at age 16 or under. Most people (65%) did not plan to lose their virginity, this was higher (66%) amongst people who did not receive sex education compared to (62%) of those who did. Having said that, 48% of virgins worry about HIV Aids, 42% worry about catching an STI, and 24% are concerned about unwanted pregnancy. When losing their virginity 48% of people used a condom, this was higher (52%) amongst people who had sex education and lower (30%) amongst those who did not.
All you need to do is take a look at South Africa’s teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection statistics to know that sexual education should form part of a SA children’s education. That’s where Durex comes in.
In partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education, Durex developed the Connect-ED programme in 2012. “Connect-ED is an innovative high school programme designed to educate students about relationships, sexual health, abstinence and condom usage,” describes Tania Goncalves-Da Conceicao, the Durex brand manager.
Connect-ED aims to target learners through as many of these touchpoints as possible and the programme consists of three main parts:
School production: The Connect-ED team travels to schools around South Africa and performs a live show along with the screening of a short movie ‘The Line’. The entertaining movie shows the story of six high school teenagers and their encounters during a day in their lives.
Connect-Ed Guide book for students: The book, illustrated with cartoons, is distributed among participating schools and brings to life important concepts related to sexual health and emotions. Some of the topics discussed include emotional aspects of sexual health; contraception; negotiating condom use; HIV/AIDS; STIs; unintended pregnancies and constitutional rights of minors related to sexual health and well-being. Educational posters are also put up in schools.
Connect-Ed Buddy: This is an online advisor through which learners are counselled on matters related to their sexual health with anonymity and confidentiality. The high-school learners can get information about sex anonymously through this website.
Through the programme, Durex provided sex education to over 2.6 million and educators in the last five years. Between 2012 and 2017, 1 300 schools were visited by the Connect-ED team and an additional 220 schools will be reached in 2018.
The Durex Global Sex Survey also highlighted that globally, 87% of 18 to 24-year-olds had some form of sex education, with the most common age for receiving this being between 12 and 13-years-old, and 95% agree that sex education enables people to be more responsible when having sex. Two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds agree that they need more information about how to communicate about sex, while over half agree that they need more information about STIs and HIV/AIDS28.
“Durex Connect-ED aims to shift the mindset of our youth, enabling them to make better choices about their sexual health. It aims to reach learners before they lose their virginity and to reduce the rates of STI’s, HIV/AIDs and unplanned pregnancies. Connect-ED advocates for abstinence first, alternatively, safer sexual practices among the youth, encouraging a positive change in sexual behaviour. In addition, it empowers educators to provide better support to learners in school by aiding them with sexual education material,” concluded Goncalves-Da Conceicao.
The Sex Talk Starting Point:
Experts recommend you buy a book to explain sexuality and other difficult topics and when ready use a TV show or a book your child might be watching or reading to start the conversation. The goal is not to scare them but to inform them and make them feel comfortable in their bodies.
It’s Perfectly Normal is one of the most popular sex ed books out there and has been around for years (R155, Buy It Here). Another great resource is this Age-By-Age Guide To Sex Education Books For Kids. You click on the age of your child and you are given a list of appropriate sex education books for that age.
Parent24 has a full guide on how to have the sex talk, what topics you should cover, how to do it as well as resources for parents and how to talk to your kids about sex.
After you’ve had the talk, let them know that you are very open to any questions they have and that there is place for comfortable and open dialogue. A good idea would be to give them the URL for Connect-Ed buddy and let them know if they have any questions they might want to ask (in case they don’t feel comfortable talking to you) they can go ask there. It can be found here.
Regardless of how your child receives sex education, they should get it because sex education will equip your children to take control and make responsible choices with regards to their own sexual behaviour.