The recent emergence of a number of child sexual abuse cases in Indonesia has created a lot of anxiety among parents and opened the nation’s eyes to the pervasiveness of the problem. The Social Affairs Ministry estimates that about 1.1 million boys and 800,000 girls have been victims of sexual abuse before they reached 18 years of age.
As part of Magdalene’s efforts to engage our readers and the community, on Saturday, May 24 we held a Weekend Dialogue in collaboration with (ak.’sa.ra), the books, music, gifts and homewares store, and 94.7 UFM on the issue of sex education for children. The first of our offline community event, the dialogue was held at (ak.’sa.ra) store in Kemang, South Jakarta.
In the dialogue with the theme “Sex and the Kids: Helping Your Children Protect Themselves”, psychiatrist Dr. Ratna Mardiati of the Angsa Merah Clinic and child psychologist Edward Andriyanto of the University of Indonesia shared their expertise to over 30 participants, including parents and bloggers.
Dr. Ratna opened the discussion by talking about children’s sexual development, quoting Sigmund Freud’s five stages of psychosexual development theory. Parents may use this categorization to guide their children and address problems during the different stages of sexuality. The psychosexual development may differ with each individual child, and the rapid spread of information exposes children to porn at much younger age these days, accelerating their sexual development, she said.
Dr. Ratna stressed the importance of introducing the anatomy of sexual organs to children as early as possible. Parents should not substitute the words for sexual organs such as penis, vagina, breasts and anus with other words, so children would not associate them with shame or taboo when talking about them.
She also reminded the audience that sexual violence is often committed by people close to the victims, such as those living in the neighborhood, or even in their own homes. Parents need to teach their kids about boundaries, what is appropriate and what is not, including when being touched by other people and when being alone with a grownup in an enclosed space.
Psychologist Edward said sex education must be taught as early as possible, starting by teaching toddlers how to clean their sex organs during bathing.
The roles of both parents are important in a child’s sexual education. Edward said it’s time to return the father’s role in the house by actively involving him in a child’s sexual education and not leaving the job exclusively to the mother. A father will be in the best position, for example, to explain to his son when reaching puberty age about wet dreams or erect penis, as would a mother in explaining about menstruation to her daughter.
Parents must keep in mind, however, that communicating with children must be adjusted to their age. For example children under 5 years old can grasp concrete examples, as compared to older children who can understand more abstract ideas, he said.
Parents should not panic or be alarmed when children have sex-specific questions or show behaviors commonly seen as inappropriate. Instead of scolding a toddler who is fixated with rubbing his genital, for example, parents should divert the child’s attention in a positive way. When a child ask questions such as where a baby comes from, parents should dignify the question with a logical answer that is age appropriate, he said.
Being open and communicative with children encourage the kids to open up to their parents when it comes to discussing sex. Organizing play dates for the kids, or inviting their friends to play at home might be a good way to stay involved in the children’s development.
There were a lot of questions posed during the discussion, among them by a mother who asked whether it’s normal that her toddler daughter would only bathe with her brother, and how to separate them. Several other questions showed that when it comes to educating children on sexuality, many parents remain in the dark.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to cover everything, but our speakers said they would available for further individual questions (you can post your questions through the comment below or send us an email and we will forward it to them). Also please keep these two addresses handy for emergency use:
- Pusat Krisis Terpadu untuk Perempuan dan Anak (The Integrated Crisis Center for Women and Children) RSCM
Instalasi Gawat Darurat (ER) RSCM Lt. 2
Jl. Diponegoro 71
- Yayasan Pulih
- Jl. Teluk Peleng No. 63
Jakarta Selatan 12520
It’s time to empower your children, so that they can protect themselves from sexual predators.
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