A public letter to parents of school learners

Recently I received a lot of mail and social media messages from you. A lot. What I learned from all of you is that you really are terrified of masturbation. Masturbation , the first sexual activity performed in utero by male babies around 24 weeks and girl babies a little later. Masturbation, the most common and  frequently performed sexual activity  by people their entire life time. You included. 

And  yet it received  this kind of public outcry and reactivity when I mentioned it in the press. I picked myself off from the floor, after being floored by your defensive toxic responses to me, I realised it was because I associated masturbation with your children and their sexuality education. How dare I imply that masturbation is spoken of in a school class room, by a teacher. After all you send your children to school to learn good clean behaviour and sexuality, specifically masturbation, is definitely not what you pay for in your private schools or former model C schools. 

Let’s pause to look at who your child is, the average South African learner who is the recipient of sexuality education in the life orientation subject each learner is required to take throughout their school career.

This learner is traumatised. Mostly by the environment in which the majority of South African children are raised . Be it gang violence, domestic violence, political upheaval, robberies, intimate partner violence, car hijacking, your child is witness to horrific events that traumatise him/her/they. This child comes to school hungry, tired and probably depressed, 57% of them are  raised without a father. So feelings of abandonment and neglect run pretty high. 

And you are outraged with me for speaking about masturbation to your children. An activity they turn to from the time they are  babies to soothe and send them off to sleep. Surely your outrage would be better directed to above mentioned social ills that so directly harm your children? #Justsaying. 

I know you’re curious about the sexuality that you think does not exist in your child’s life. Truth is your child is  exposed to a highly sexualised environment, both on their mobile devices and their own In Real Life experiences.

In Real Life  one out of 5 boy children are sexually abused , one out of 3 girl children are sexually abused. By you, your partner, their siblings, the neighbour, grandfather, uncle or aunt. And do you know how they soothe themselves through this trauma? You got it… masturbation is one of the healthiest ways your kid can self soothe rather than turning to abusing other children , turning to drugs, alcohol, high risk behaviours. You want to pray that masturbation is the only “sin” they perform to recover from their sexual abuse.

Do they need to learn that masturbation is a healthy safe private sexual activity that they can continue to do all their lives as long as it does not distract them from forming In Real Life Relationships and from daily duties? You bet they need permission form parents/caregivers and school teachers to feel “normal” and healthy in their masturbation activities. Guilt becomes stealth and stealth leads to shame which leads to > more masturbation. Isn’t sexuality education a wonderful gift the government gives your child?! 

Here is what your child is doing. This is based on recent research that came out of the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior Survey. I draw your attention here as it highlights sexual activities which should trigger your concern and kick you into action. Bring the same energy that you brought to me over masturbation, to the relevant authorities. This is violent and non consensual sexual activities in which   your children are engaging. This is where you should be concerned . Masturbation is a walk in a very pleasant private  park. Sexually coercive behavior is traumatic and harmful to your children. Stay silent at your own peril.

  • At any given point in time, most U.S. adolescents are not engaging in partnered sexual behavior. While 40% of 17 year-old males reported vaginal intercourse in the past year, only 27% reported the same in the past 90 days. (2009 NSSHB).
  • Women 1st vaginal intercourse = 16/17/18 years old
  • In other words your kids are masturbating more than having partner intercourse. 
  • There is a discrepancy between what parents think their  kids have seen  online and what they actually  have seen.
  • 63 percent of 13- to-17-year-olds visit Instagram  daily, for an average of 32 minutes. Instagram and Snapchat are most popular platforms for young people to access porn. 
  • Eleven is the average age a child is first exposed to porn. And 94 percent of kids will see porn by age 14.
  • Pornography should be seen  as a site for developing sexual identities and relationships, as a form of sexual leisure and play, and in relation to the broader emergence of mediated intimacies. 
  • In Real Life 13% adolescent report being choked 
  • Lots of face fucking , face jobs – aggressive blow jobs in age 14-29 years 
  • Choking /strangulation in first time hook ups in 14-29 year olds 
  • Consent not discussed, no negotiation around these activities

Perhaps you are startled to read these facts. I understand it is startling. Certainly different from the sexual activities you as a  parent were practicing back in your teen years of exploration – and probably different to the kind of sexual activity you currently practice.

These are the changes in sexual behavior in last 10 years. They are shaped by technology.

If you as a parent rebel against  sexuality education –  that is comprehensive sexuality education as opposed to abstinence based only sexuality education – if you as a parent do not engage in sexuality conversations with your children, you do so at your own peril.

By holding silence you place your child at risk of harmful unsafe non consensual sexuality. You deprive them of the opportunity for a healthy responsible highly pleasurable sexual and intimate life.

PS Don’t kill the messenger

Contact me for further information about Sexuality Education

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