Sooner or later, children will discover sex; it's inevitable. In more developed countries like America; teenagers are enlightened about 'the birds and the bees' via Sex Education in their schools; which is actually a good idea but a double edged sword depending on how one sees it. On one hand, they are educated about what goes on between a man and a woman, how babies are conceived and the consequences of unsafe sexual practices-Unwanted/Unplanned Pregnancy, STD(Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and the importance of abstinence until the right time. On the other hand, despite warnings and advice- some teenagers may indulge out of curiosity, defiance or just youthful exuberance/raging hormones. All the same, Sex Education covers all the bases.
In a country like Nigeria, no such luxury exists in the schools yet though there are now petitions from several notable bodies demanding for the addition of Sex Education in the curriculum. Most Nigerian parents tend to be tight lipped and put on a prudish attitude when their teenagers ask the inevitable question 'Mum... Dad... what is Sex?' When that question is unanswered and they are given a reprimand instead, they(girls especially) end up asking the wrong person like maybe a male neighour, a male teacher or a male friend and if the person happens to be a horny irresponsible fellow; the girl could end up raped and then forced to carry an unplanned pregnancy or worse. Who is to be blamed then?
Personally I never got 'the talk' from my parents; I found out on my own when I was a little girl of about 7 (shocking enough). Despite Mum's efforts, I somehow found myself watching romance films on T.V where I would be wondering why a man and woman held each other so close under the sheets. But my education really began when my older brother's friends came to visit one day and slotted in a tape in the VCR which turned out to be a porno film. To say I was shocked was an understatement; till today I can still remember what I saw and the first thought in my mind that afternoon, 'Oh... so that's what goes on under the bedsheets.' (Don't judge the guys too harshly, they had no idea I was in the room) Lurid Magazines, Mills & Boon and Biology covered the rest 7 years later.
From my research among several female friends, I gathered that none of them got 'the talk' from their parents. Some found out on their own from different sources but not as early as I did; some were reprimanded when they asked for sex to be explained to them and the others never thought about asking/parents never volunteered to enlighten them. I don't know how it was handled during my Mum's time; she went to Convent School where, according to her, the nuns were extremely strict (mere crossing of the legs when sitting down got them into trouble) but I strongly suspect that she and the other school girls were given the talk in the guise of a long, lengthy lecture about the sin of premarital sex; which probably gave them the shivers and caused them to maintain complete abstinence until the 'licence' (wedding ring) was on their finger.
Until Sex Education is added to the curriculum, parents have to play a huge part in enlightening their children about Sex in order to prevent them from discovering it the hard way and suffering the consequences. For the boys, Fathers' job; Girls, Mothers' job naturally and both parties should not even wait for them to ask! The time for 'the talk' is of course the time of Puberty, age 12-14 at the most; when their sons and daughters' bodies begin to change and hormones start acting funny. There is no room for prim and proper or prudish attitude; they should get on with it and the sooner the better if they care about safe guarding their children's bright future and protect them from going astray.
So which way is the best way for children to be enlightened about sex; Formal Sex Education or from the parents?