Talking about sexuality, especially with children and adolescents, is never easy.
Often in the family the embarrassment wins and not always at school they face each other in the most appropriate way. The result is that for many, too many young and very young people, the most frequent source of information regarding sexuality becomes the web, with all the consequent risks. If, on the other hand, you want to deal with sexual education by following a real program designed according to the needs of different age groups, Mondadori offers a series of innovative volumes edited by Roberta Giommi and Marcello Perrotta. We have so, for the 3-6 year range How I was born (2021, Euro 13.00, also e-book), therefore for the age of 7-10 years I’m growing up (2021, pp. 64, also e-book) and finally The game, friendship and love (2021, pp. 128, also e-book), designed for girls and boys between 11 and 14 years old. We ask Roberta Giommi, director of the International Institute of Sexology in Florence, what are the principles underlying the sexual education program contained in the three volumes:
“The fundamental element of the choice was to talk about human beings, girls, children, adolescents, adults, stopping to make people think that human sexuality is something we have to hide instead of knowing. We started at 3-6 years old because we know that the little ones ask many questions and generally receive only partial answers. The question ‘How are babies born’ is usually answered only by talking about the baby / girl in the mother’s womb and if they ask other questions they avoid answering. From clinical work on problems it turns out that even when development begins (menstruation, ejaculation, sexual sensations) generally one does not make the commitment to prepare for growth and this can create incompetence and fears. Sex education is also knowledge of sensations, emotions, respect for oneself and for others “.
What is the state of health of sex education in our country?
“We live in a very contradictory reality, as if all countries overtake us while we, after many years, still do not have a law on sex education and many projects are interrupted before leaving. In Italy there are partial decree-laws, even if they are important , but no law on sexual and emotional education at school or in sports centers, as foreseen by the World Health Organization “.
Why in your opinion?
“There is a resistance to thinking how having legislation is a form of respect and attention to growth. We, as the International Institute of Sexology, train experts in Sex Education who work throughout the Italian territory and are recognized by the Italian Federation of Scientific Sexology. And we do it with difficulty in the absence of a law on sexual education. Conversely, it would be nice to know that we take care of sexual growth in a structured way, because today there is no accompaniment and adequate answers to so many questions and fears “.
What attention should be paid when talking about sexuality and affectivity to children and teenagers?
“You have to talk about everything with grace: about the relationship with the body, about the sexual act, about what you like or dislike, about respect, about emotions, about how to deal with waste, how to defend yourself, how to accept different choices, how to protect yourself from harassment and aggression, how sexuality works, how to recognize safe sex and safe emotional relationships. Language must be suitable for different age groups and one must always resort to activations and visual stimuli, welcoming opinions and answering questions “.
When do you meet young and very young people what are your main doubts or curiosities?
“The questions of the little ones are among the most varied and can also arise from watching the news or from things that also happen to older brothers and sisters. The older ones talk more about their experiences or the actions they want to take like the first time. , auto-eroticism, what males and females like, how to defend themselves from the confusion between sex and pleasure and sex and fertility. They also want to know about contraception and precautions against sexually transmitted infections. In the books dedicated to age groups 7-10 and 11 -14 we also talk about the different choices and difficulties in love towards people of the same sex and the different ways of understanding one’s body. Much attention must also be given to falling in love, emotions, jealousies, how to manage waste without to get lost”.
Does the focus on sex education change whether you are a boy / girl or a girl / girl?
“We try to talk to everyone together because it is important that there is friendship and knowledge between the sexes and because some themes are similar and must also lead to understanding the differences and understanding and dealing with homosexual reality”.
On the basis of your experience, do we speak of sexual education in families?
“Little. We talk about many things but little about Sex Education, indeed there are families who fear that others will talk about these topics and prefer to remain silent on topics that in any case concern the lives of their sons and daughters. Many families, on the other hand, are very interested in knowing and talking with their daughters and sons, discussing what is happening, having information and sharing it. We always explain to families that today boys, girls, girls and boys can easily access encounters, friendships and dangerous images. Making silence prevail means declaring that a fundamental part of the life of the youngest must escape the affectionate and reassuring confrontation even of parents “.