Catch your children watching something sexy? Just chill

By Nhu Quynh Vu   March 22, 2022 | 05:00 pm PT
Catch your children watching something sexy? Just chill
Condom products in different colors. Illustration photo by Shutterstock
Hiding "taboo" knowledge from children fuels their curiosity. This is not rocket science. The question is: Why do Vietnamese parents still shy away from sex and gender issues?

Recently, after checking her son's smartphone and finding out that the boy was accessing websites with sexual content, a mother posted the entire thing on Facebook for everyone to see, warning parents to check their children's social media accounts as well.

The incident became controversial, with many people saying the mother's actions would negatively impact the child's mental health and development.

Let's get this straight: children being curious about gender and sex is natural and inevitable. While the West seems to have accepted it as such, in several Asian countries, including Vietnam, it is still considered taboo, and parents prevent their children from discussion or learning about such topics.

The parents should know, from their own experiences, that keeping children away from knowing or learning about something as natural as sex only fuels their curiosity; and in this digital age, they access dubious websites with age-inappropriate content.

However, instead of sitting down with their children and discussing sex and other sensitive things in an educational manner with them, many parents are still choosing to stay silent. Shutting such topics out of conversations has the effect of preventing children from learning sensibly about them.

When I studied in Canada, our university had free condoms available in the medical ward. Any student could simply take them whenever they wanted. There, they have had sex education even in primary schools, and this continues till they turn adults. Therefore, most adults have solid knowledge about gender, safe sex and related issues.

It was when I was about to get married that I started to learn more about contraceptives and realized that things like intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants have already been taught to Canadian children since they were 16 or so.

Meanwhile in Vietnam, when I went to the hospital to ask about having an intrauterine device while unmarried, the employees gave me utterly bemused looks.

I work with online systems and social media, so I understand that children have all kinds of ways to gain access to sexual content if they want to. Parents won't be able to do much about that. The more they try to ban it, the more curious their children will get. The only choice left is to teach our children early on about sex and gender as a natural part of human development.

There is nothing wrong or ugly about sex, per se. Either we teach them or risk our children finding things out behind our backs and possibly ruining their future one day.

We're in the digital age now. Smartphones and the internet have become integral to our lives, and so has access to all kinds of knowledge as well as misinformation. We do not need to lose more time in changing our social perceptions of sex education. We have to direct the flow of curiosity into correct paths, neither cutting it loose nor jamming it up.

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