Talking about “sex” might be forbidden, embarrassing or even something only about sexual intercourse to some people. To others, this might be perceived as a regular topic to discuss that everyone needs to know about because this concerns one’s body. At the present time, there are efforts of multiple bodies working on promoting sexual communication to people in society to realize, understand and be ready to accept the issue as it is happening.
3c4teen had an opportunity to interview Sarinya Singhathongvan, the founder of “Kon Wai Sai (Young Adolescent) Group, Chiang Mai”, advocating for AIDS, sex education, sexual and reproductive health in the community. The Group’s focus is to work under the strategy to enhance community members, including children, youth and parents to have a better sexual health, as well as to promote families to open their minds to safe and happy sexual conversations.
The “Sexual Health Classroom” is another interesting activity. This is the initiative of Kon Wai Sai Group to collaborate with the community, extended schools, parents, children and youth of Don Kaew Sub-district, Saraphi District, Chiang Mai Province. The activity is to coach children, youth and parents to be the “Sexual Health Communicators”. They are to participate in exercises in creating a space to share and exchange their learning and to attend the training sessions consisting of 4 courses of Sexual Health Classroom, including:
Course 1: Physical Changes during Puberty consists of learning about one’s emotions, understanding behavioral changes and exploring own adolescence;
Course 2: Preparing for Adolescence consists of learning to understand the changes in own body for a better sexual health;
Course 3: Safe Sex consists of learning about how to protect oneself appropriately and knowing how to refuse; and,
Course 4: Prevention of Sexual Harassment consists of: recognizing a “good touch” and “bad touch”; body parts that other can touch; body parts that make one uncomfortable when being touched; and protecting oneself from sexual harassment.
These 4 courses are taught in schools during the 1-hour period of Health Education Subject Group, 3 sessions per term. The focus is the children in the community. They are taught in schools by our youth communicators who also teach the community on the weekends. The parent communicators are to teach the community during the week days.
Another interesting point in addition to the courses of Sexual Health Classroom is the activity conducted by our well trained youth communicators of sexual health. This is based on the peer educator method. In other words, children and youth can learn from their closely familiar issues that the schools do not teach them in depth and cannot be applied in real life. In addition, they also gain exposure to real objects such as tampons, condoms and contraceptives to examine and ask questions about them.
“Sexual Health Classrooms aren’t a one-time implementation. We can’t just deliver and complete. But we have to repeat for a couple of times. And continue to do it more often. This is the reinforcement of the importance so that they could realize how to take a good care of themselves.”
When 3c4teen asked about suggestions that the Group would like to share with the society about positive sexuality advocacy, Sarinya stated that working with children should start as early as the age of 3-4 years. In her experience, the kids this age are so curious and start asking more questions about their genitals. So they should be educated as early as possible in order that they can develop their own immunity. At the same time, the family should open up to talk about sex with their children “as sexuality … isn’t just about having sex.”
And finally, there should be more comprehensive sexual health knowledge which is not the teaching about having sex to our children, but instead the teaching of self-protection.