Parents around South Africa are up in arms over the news that the Department of Basic Education will be introducing updated scripted lesson plans to the Comprehensive Sexuality Education curriculum.
They say the lessons are 'graphically explicit' and include unnecessary depictions of sexual assault and masturbation.
Q: Many are saying that the Grade 4 and 5 sex-ed lesson are especially unnecessary. As an expert, what do you think is the suggested age for children to be educated on sex?
A: "Children should be taught about sexuality when they are babies because it is not just about sex.
It is about values, humanity, kindness, consent, body image, and relationships. It is about teaching children how to think critically for themselves.
We live in a society where our children definitely, definitely need to be sexually educated."
Q: Parents are also protesting that teachers are being tasked with teaching these sensitive subjects. Should sex education solely be the responsibility of the parent, or should schools also be enabled to assist with this kind of education?
A: "It should definitely be a collaboration between both parties. Educators and parents should be singing from the same songbook; they should be giving the same consistent message to children.
This doesn't mean there should be a negligence or a dismissal of their own values, religion and cultures.
It should be about taking these frameworks: culture, religion, and values, to teach children to create their own frameworks by learning factual information about sexuality."
Q: Another concern is that after being exposed to sex ed content, students will act out what they're learning in class. Could sex education in schools sexualise children?
A: "No, that is quite a ridiculous notion. Children are already quite sexual. They don't need to be exposed to sexual education to be sexualised.
When they are not taught sexual education they are at risk because they won't have knowledge on self-pride and adequate decision-making skills when it comes to sex.
This is why we see things like teenage pregnancy increase. These things are already happening in our schools; they are already doing it, and they need to be taught it is okay, normal and healthy. That gives them a sense of relief, which is a healthy way to navigate sex.
To conclude, by not giving children sexuality education, we put them at risk of exploring other avenues like porn, and they are doing that.
Educators also need to receive adequate training about how to teach sexual education. It is a crucial factor, and it's currently a huge missing piece. Teachers need to be more equipped to do this."
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has released the full curriculum for public viewing: See for yourself: The Comprehensive Sexuality Education curriculum is here
Share your thoughts on the subject with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.