In a cultural setting where everything is over-sexualized by default, the lack of sex education and openness about the topic, can be almost catastrophic. Our somewhat conservative culture being one of the many which promote abstinence and purity, has established a barrier when it comes to parents having the talk with their children or schools offering a healthy sex education.
But what happens when you combine the alarming sexualized TV shows, music videos, and social media content with uneducated teens and a taboo surrounding the topic of sex? Habitually you get a group of young people getting their information from older siblings, school mates, and more dangerously pornographic magazines or online sites.
A couple of days ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop Prishtina with a friend discussing our parents and the schools’ inability to provide us with useful information concerning our sexualities and bodies; midway through our talk she tells me the story of how she and her siblings discovered this topic which was off limits: Every time she and her siblings were left unsupervised, they would turn the TV on X-rated channels and look at porn movies, analyzing the human bodies and this ‘unmentionable’ act, and tried to get as much information as they could. Evidently these viewings were in no way sexual as she and her siblings were around the age of ten, but they arose more questions that they answered.
What baffled me was not the unusual method of self-education but rather the fact that it was so similar to me and my cousins’ experience. Unknowingly and this goes without say – secretly – we had shared the experience of taking off where the adults in our lives left off and thus, feeding our natural curiosity.
This early exposure to pornography most often leads to both emotional and mental health issues, and the exact thing our culture is trying to prevent: a younger age of introduction to sexual activity and sexual promiscuity. The negative effects do not shrink when young people get their information from siblings or from school-friends: they rather go from being uninformed to being misinformed thus, unable to practice safe sex and avoid unwanted pregnancies or STDs.
However, replacing the hush-hushes surrounding sex-discussion during an early age with a hands-on, approachable parenting style and well-designed sexual education classes at school can go a long way. Giving kids access to much-needed information about their bodies allows them to make educated decisions based on factual information combined with their moral compass, rather than leading to immoral behavior.
Consenting to this pretention that sexuality does not exist amongst young teens allows young boys to keep being ridiculed for not having sex and young girls shamed for the opposite. This effort put in shielding young teens completely from healthy sexuality leads to overexposure and under-preparedness. Maybe cultural and religious taboos have contributed to almost erasing the fact that we are first and foremost human beings and human beings have sexual needs and appetites which need to be explored. How many more generations will it take until the education system stops letting young teens be dangerously uneducated about their bodies?