49% of parents able to talk to kids about sex: Poll

ST ILLUSTRATION: MANNY FRANCISCO

A recent survey of parents has shown that about half of them are comfortable talking to their children about sex.

A total of 564 respondents were polled in January and February by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) and independent research agency Blackbox Research.

According to the results, which were released this week, 49 per cent of parents said they were able to discuss the topic of sex with their children in an age-appropriate manner.

Slightly more than half, or 51 per cent of them, said they could talk about romantic relationships too, and 57 per cent said they were comfortable talking about sexual health with their children.

These figures were lower than expected, said Aware head of research and advocacy Shailey Hingorani.

"We expected the number of parents feeling comfortable speaking about those various topics to be higher than it was - especially because a much larger percentage of parents, at 70 per cent, believed themselves to be the best persons to give sex education," she said.

Still, some lacked the tools to teach their children, according to the survey.

About a third of the parents who were uncomfortable having these discussions said they did not know how to start such conversations.

Other reasons were because they were either embarrassed, or worried these discussions would encourage their children to have sex.

 
 
 

Experts said that education on sexuality and relationships must be taught from a young age.

Schools and parents, they said, must place more emphasis on these issues, at a time when society is becoming more "sexualised" and people are more open to having sex at a younger age.

Dr Munidasa Winslow, a psychiatrist, said: "Parents may feel uncomfortable talking to their kids about sex, but kids are growing up with the Internet in their hands, and not everything they see is good."

As they grow up, children must fall back on a baseline of values and principles concerning consent and safety, he added.

Senior social worker Mok Xue Ting said that children should be taught to identify safe and unsafe boundaries within interpersonal relationships, as well as personal safety skills.

She added: "Parents and educators should encourage children to assert their right to feel safe and maintain an environment whereby children can feel safe to talk about their feelings."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2020, with the headline '49% of parents able to talk to kids about sex: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe