It is a sad commentary on the human existence that the one thing that our creator intended to be used to procreate the earth, something that should be joyful, is also the one thing that is at the root of so much evil and so much grief. Sex trafficking, rape, sexual assault, incest and childhood sexual abuse are all a problem because someone (and many someones) did not have a healthy attitude about sex. It might have been a multi-generational problem such as in my case. My father was a perpetrator, his father was a womanizer. Children of an untreated child sexual abuse victim stand a five times greater chance of being molested themselves.
I once knew a very wise man who had an unusual but intriguing take on all of this. He felt that if children were raised with healthy and appropriate information and role modeling regarding sexual behavior there would be no sex crimes. He had a point that caused me much pondering. There is a right way and a wrong way to teaching your children healthy sexual behavior. If you are cheating on your mate and somehow that knowledge leaks down to your children, they are inclined to think when they grow up that this is appropriate behavior. Why not? Dad did it. Or mom did it?If mom takes her children at a young age to an R rated movie, saying they won't know what's going on, they are learning information that is not what they need to know about healthy sexual behavior. They will think this is the norm. If mom encourages her young teenager to wear low cut tops once she starts to develop breasts she is setting her child up. That child will go out in the world and attract an unhealthy atmosphere to say nothing of the sex offenders waiting to see just that.
I once dated a man who had a precocious two year old. We were in a park having a picnic and a stranger sitting on the bench of a nearby picnic table was watching her with a look that made me uncomfortable. My sixth sense thought he looked like a caricature of a sex offender. The little girl began walking toward him. I cautioned the father to stop his daughter but he thought it was so cute. The little girl began stroking the strangers leg and the stranger picked her up, put her on his lap and muttered something to her. My friend, the father, found it even more appealing that his daughter was so friendly. I had knots in my stomach and hurried over to pick up the little girl and bring her over to where we were sitting. It caused a serious disagreement between the father and I.
We teach our children World History, Grammar, Arithmetic, Reading and other subjects so they will use that knowledge to out in the world and make their place. The only sex education I received was when I was in sixth grade and was told to go to the nurse's office. I was quite uneasy as the only time anyone went to the nurses's office was if they were going to get a shot or when they received bad news. The nurse explained about menstruation. She said my mother had called the nurse and asked her to do so. I was totally confused by the nurses's explanation, a cold and clinical report on the female body. I was also sad and disappointed that this information, which looked like it was important, came from someone I didn't even know instead of my mother. Did my mother not have the time to explain this to me? Did my mother not want to be involved in a discussion like this. If so, why not? I walked out of there my head blurred with diagrams and drawings of the ovary and the eggs. I still had no idea why the female body was constructed that way since sex wasn't mentioned.
The way I found out about sex was even more confusing. A nun told me. She was our Biology teacher at the Catholic school we attended in the midwest. I was in the tenth grade. All the girls were told to go into the sewing room. As we sat, wondering what this was all about, she began explaining about sex. I heard the dreaded words, "the penis is inserted into the vagina" and began shaking. During this time my father was coming into my bedroom in the middle of the night. I looked at the other girls, all farm kids. I had the feeling they already knew as everyone yawned with boredom. I walked out, legs shaking. This was how babies were made? You didn't buy them at the hospital as I had previously thought?Why didn't my mom tell me this? Next it was the boy's turn. We waited in silence while they spent their time in the sex education information center. When they came out they were giggling and poking each other. Why did they find something comical that I found frightening? Mostly I wondered how our Biology nun knew all of this. It was a confusing time for me.
If a child sees mommy and daddy affectionate and playful with each other they receive a wonderful message. Marriage is a joyful thing. If mom or dad doesn't like to be touched or hugged, children get another message, not a good one. If mom and dad sit down with their child and explain in loving and meaningful language about making love, that child will grow up with a healthy appreciation of sex. If they explain to their child about setting boundaries and appropriate and inappropriate behavior the child is now armed with information and wisdom that will help them make their way through life.
So many of us are working on helping people who have been sexually abused, raped or in a domestic violence situation. How many of us are working on prevention and teaching our children about healthy sexual behavior both with wise words and with healthy role models?