Wed | Sep 23, 2020

Letter of the Day | Mandatory parenting classes in high schools

Published:Tuesday | November 12, 2019 | 12:00 AM


As a health and family life education (HFLE) teacher and member of the Jamaica Association of Social Workers (JASW), I am concerned that throughout kindergarten and high school, children only receive minimum sex education, which is actually what some parents and teachers seem to prefer.

If parents are still asking children, “What’s wrong with your ‘cho-cho?’ then children should respond by saying, “Huh? I don’t even eat cho-cho!” Parents must address children’s private parts as ‘penis’ or ‘vagina’ (and if your child mentions eating of anything outside of food, you would really need to become the best investigative parent ever).

Although cases of child abuse could be reduced by more children differentiating a good touch from a bad touch, in Jamaica, one of the greatest challenges lies within the parents and caregivers who have not yet figured out how to foster a relationship where the child is not embarrassed to ask or mention anything about sex and sexuality.

As a preventative measure, you would think that many parents would share their experiences about the cycles of child abuse in their families and communities, but guilt and shame from childhood experiences, or a lack of know-how, still make parents anxious to protect their child’s sexual development.

Parents must help their children to understand that sex and sexuality are healthy parts of life. It is a good move to alert children about preying paedophiles, but it is an even a better move to actually model what a healthy adult-child relationship should look, sound or feel like.

Therefore, sex conversations would not need to be ‘one-off’ conversations or events.

Consequently, parents must be able to follow three simple steps for talking about sex: find out what their children already know about sex; replace any myth or misinformation with facts; and use the opportunity to reflect on personal thoughts, feelings or experiences.


May we empower our children, our future parents, to practise assertiveness and refusal skills which they should already be learning in school.

The school systems always seem to be convenient to accommodate remediation of social ills and breakdown in family structures which have been identified in the life skills-based curriculum.

Sometimes, parenthood is survivable through instincts and mirroring previous parent-child relationships.

Nonetheless, since each parent is not receiving some formal parental education, and before the next generations of toddlers are ready for school, I am left to ask the question: shouldn’t parenting classes in high schools become mandatory?