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Sex education for children, YES, of course!

By CHITO DELA TORRE
April 7, 2010

A text message from a radio announcer in a city in Region VIII (Eastern Visayas) asked me on March 24 this question: “may I ask ur commnt pls r u n favor 2d stand of d new educ sec, mona valisno dat sex educ should b taught n schools so d studnts would learn rsponsble fmily planning”.  My reply: “I am in favor that sex education should be taught now in hischls and colleges. Even for Grave V and VI. Since 1964, I’ve been observing that boys and girls already knew what to do with sex during their elementary days.  In my own case, I already knew a lot at age 6. THANKS to my teacher parents and my Catechism tutors in Basey.  Neighbor children of my age then learned about sex, frm people in the streets.  Thanks for your query.”

The same announcer asked on March 25: “Can I ask ur commnt pls? wht can u say bout GMAs statmnt dat she wants mguindanao msscre case b  resolvd by june 30? labi n na baga ngmingaw man ine n kaso?”  My reply: “PGMA’s decision is a result of leadership in crisis, lack of wisdom, absence of veritable desire and will to put an end to a problem in the acceptable shortest desirable time.  Things like the Ampatuan’s must not be prolonged in the name of conscientious justice.”

Back to the subject matter in the first paragraph here, in both rural and urban areas, everywhere I went around the Philippines between 1962 and 2010, there were children, mostly boys, of primary education years, who exchanged thoughts about what humans of opposite sexes talk about their sexes, even more seriously than adolescents and adults do.  The exchange would always take place after they get entangled in children’s games that develop into a verbal tussle fanned by dissatisfaction over what one or others did during their games.

In some cases, boys and girls, while resting from a hide-and-seek or touch-and-run game, chat about what one’s parents do and whose parents do better in sex.  Very seldom would an adult who chance to hear their tsismis ever stop them from discussing further that matter.  Instead, there are instances when the adults fuel up further the argumentation by teasing the boys and girls one after the other.

In my childhood days, adults were always the parents of the arguing children.  When they join the discussion, and the discussion worsens into an altercation, an imbroglio occurs between the parents.  When only the male parents would decide to settle the issue between themselves, streets soon become an arena of warring men, each with a long, sharp-bladed weapon (sundang or sansibar) or sometimes the other armed with a sugob or bulos (both meaning spear) or with a pakang (the spined backbone of a pawikan (green turtle), and very, very rarely would there be fisticuffs – although, very, very seldom would the exchange of stashing blows, hacks and thrusts leave any trace of blood from either of the protagonists, which makes the whole scene funny and entertaining, but not welcome.

Some of my male classmates in Grade IV used to find time to mimic what male adults do to satisfy themselves sexually.

Between years 2004 and 2010, in a neighborhood in Tacloban highly urbanized city, two young girls who have failed to get a second year high school education got pregnant.  Their impregnators were also young boys.  Asked once, one of the two girls confided that she and her boy knew what they were doing, and that even if they knew so much about the government’s family planning thrusts, their poverty, or simply, their being part of an abandoned social microcosm, cannot do anything but live with life, whether as a risk or in abandon.  The younger girl is pregnant for the second time, with another boy.  Her fist pregnancy failed into a mere fetus, mostly blood.  No, the pornographic movies and video tapes had nothing to do with what forced them to do sex.  It was not even pure lust and craving for libido.  Theirs was an effect of a government that always fails to look down the level of the hopeless in society, and that prefers only the educated to get close to an employment opportunity while feeding the hapless only once or twice in 365 days, or that is blinded by the so-called global demand for this or that which necessitates the continued emergence of superstructures in Metro Manila while crop lands could not be irrigated and human communities could not be saved from flash floods or mere flooding brought about by a brief rain.

Between 2000 and 2004, I had worked with a small group that looked into the plight of minor women – some of them aged 11, some from the island barrios and towns, whose poverty and the unemployment of their parents, or the absence of veritably reliable livelihood sources for their parents, forced them to be pliant to enticements for greener pastures in Metro Manila, where they would end up as sex slaves or characters of forced labor.  Some of the young women were forced to earn a living from prostitution because police officer so and so threatened them to and because the government was never around to protect or save them when they needed it.  They knew so much about sex before they reached 10 years old, from the elder and older people who talk about sex and even do sex while others are knowingly watching from somewhere.

And there are other worse stories, becoming worst.  The government cannot do so much.  Its eyes and hands are focus on “other top priorities”.  The “untrained” locals have to be left to themselves to manage their own problems – inescapably, that’s what the abandoning government is trying to tell.

Yet, I endorse sex education.  One that should not only be catered to high school students, but also to pupils in the primary and elementary schools.  But, the first requirement should be that the Department of Education should be able to convince us all that it is ready with that which it sees is a solution to the problem that is supposed to be addressed by sex education.  Readiness has measures in management and in advocacy.  If this is not available at an appreciable level, then the DepEd’s thrust still lacks so much.

My mentors in my childhood were correct in their approach.  Parents should not leave their children alone with their peers.  Teachers should keep their pupils always busy.  Society should make time profitable and precious to all, including those below 6 years old.  The DepEd should present its curriculum first to the public for scrutiny.  Clean.

And yes, keeping busy is the answer.  When one has nothing to do, he or she begins to do things that should not be done.  There’s wisdom in this that someone had said a long time ago: an empty mind is a devil’s workshop.