2 ministries to discuss bringing sex education to schools

Deputy minister Hannah Yeoh says 9% of children, from as young as 13, are already sexually active.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two ministries will hold a meeting soon to discuss the possible introduction of sex education in schools.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said the meeting will be called by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching and will look into ways to reach out faster to students concerning sex education.

However, Yeoh noted that any revamp in the school syllabus to include sex education would take time.

“However, in the meantime, statistics from the health ministry show that 9% of children from as young as 13, and in remove classes, are already sexually active.

“This percentage is not a small number. As we wait, this number will grow.

“So, we have to understand why people are doing the things they do,” she said at a press conference after attending a forum on child abuse cases here today.

Yeoh said parents and grown-ups would be in denial if they say “don’t talk about sex”.

“If they are already practising sex at that age, if you want to teach them basic things, chances are that they probably know more than the teachers.

“Therefore, there is a need to talk together. Our ministries will talk and review, and see how to reach out to them online,” Yeoh said.

The Segambut MP said it was now time to remove taboos on sex education.

“Our children have access online. These are tools that, if not taught properly, will damage an entire generation.”

Child abuse data

On a related matter, Yeoh also called for more open sharing of data concerning child abuse cases.

She noted that at present, while there were available statistics on the number of cases, there was no available data if one wanted to probe further.

“The collection of such data is important.”

Some of the police officers who attended a forum on child abuse cases here today.

Yeoh noted the importance of such information even for NGOs working with children, stating that the absence of such data prevents them from helping the ministry with intervention or prevention programmes.

She said the ministry had begun loading all these data online, so that the general public will have access to that information.

“Social problems cannot be tackled by just one agency. It usually involves everybody,” she said.

Yeoh said at this juncture, the ministry is looking into strategic mapping so as to enable them to formulate intervention programmes.

“For instance, baby dumping. I need to know first, who has been dumping the babies.

“If I do not know that, I can carry out 10 programmes in KL, but if baby dumping is happening in the rural areas, I’ll be missing the target.”

Yeoh said, more often than not, people will think children are dying at the hands of their nannies.

“However, when we look at the data on those who commit such abuse, it is not the nannies who come in first, but fathers, mothers and lovers.”

Yeoh noted that while there was a system to filter out those who have past convictions from working with children, there was still the question of how to prevent abuse by parents.

She stressed on the importance of lodging police reports, and called for cooperation from neighbours, school teachers, relatives and friends who know of parents with anger management issues and are aware they have gone overboard with physical discipline.

“Police reports need to be lodged for us to take preventive measures,” she said.

Yeoh said to tackle child abuse, one also needed to look at drug use as well as the mental health of both parents.