Business Bhutan - - Editorial -

A study by United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund Bhutan and Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Women and Chil­dren re­vealed that 20% of chil­dren aged from 13-17 were ex­posed to pornog­ra­phy. The re­port also stated that 41.7% of boys and 28.7% of girls are ex­posed to dig­i­tal pornog­ra­phy of other peo­ple.

What does this have to say about the state of our chil­dren’s men­tal and emo­tional for­ma­tive years? Bhutan is not a con­ser­va­tive so­ci­ety when it comes to sex, truth be told. Bars, of­fices and pub­lic places are of­ten filled with rib­ald hu­mor. We are known as a so­ci­ety that is re­laxed and easy­go­ing.

But the fig­ures of chil­dren ex­posed to pornog­ra­phy are star­tling. Are we be­com­ing too lax in the up­bring­ing of our youth? Are we send­ing a wrong mes­sage that sex­ual per­mis­sive­ness and sex­u­ally ir­re­spon­si­ble be­hav­ior is okay as long as it goes un­caught?

Here comes the need to shield our chil­dren from spend­ing end­less hours in front of the id­iot box or in­dulging in so­cial me­dia fren­zies. Most of­ten than not, tele­vi­sion and in­ter­net sites are where it all starts.

We need to guide chil­dren from a young age and when the time is right, talk about the “birds and bees” with them.

Chil­dren are of­ten drawn to pornog­ra­phy and ex­plicit me­dia con­tent be­cause they are cu­ri­ous. Talk­ing to them frankly about sex and warn­ing them about the dan­gers of promis­cu­ity and other forms of sex­ual ex­pres­sions that are un­pro­tected by ac­cept­able in­sti­tu­tions could rid them of cu­rios­ity lead­ing to dan­ger­ous ex­per­i­ment­ing. We have a lot to lose if we do not: high in­ci­dences of teenage preg­nan­cies, STIs, un­healthy ad­dic­tions and be­hav­iors, and dys­func­tional char­ac­ters.

It would also be a wise idea for par­ents to mon­i­tor the TV chan­nels and pro­grams chil­dren watch. An­other step could be keep­ing a watch on what chil­dren read. Trashy pub­li­ca­tions that es­pe­cially glam­or­ize sex­ual vi­o­lence or de­pict women as sex ob­jects should be­long to its right place-the trash bin.

School au­thor­i­ties could also play an im­por­tant role through sex and value ed­u­ca­tion classes which would in­spire stu­dents to be re­spon­si­ble when it comes to sex­ual be­hav­ior.

The key word here is val­ues. If we im­part the right val­ues to young­sters, they will know right from wrong. While temp­ta­tions will al­ways present them­selves in var­i­ous forms, the chal­lenge for us as a so­ci­ety is to cul­ti­vate ster­ling char­ac­ters that can fight and ac­tu­ally over­come temp­ta­tions.

Sex in it­self is good. Sex­ual de­sire is a pow­er­ful tool that can be har­nessed and if chan­neled pro­duc­tively, can pro­duce great work, great art, great en­ergy and great power. But if mis­used can cause equal harm and de­struc­tion.

Chil­dren need to chan­nel their en­er­gies into ac­tiv­i­ties like sports, com­mu­nity pro­grams and read­ing among oth­ers that will build and pre­pare them for life and chal­lenges.

We must give them healthy sub­sti­tutes to un­healthy ones. That is the only way.

And as re­spon­si­ble adults we must show the way: walk the talk. Be mind­ful of how we talk and be­have in front of kids. That does not mean we should be prudes. There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween a prude and a man or woman who knows how and when to ex­press the right emo­tions and de­sires at the right time. A self-con­trolled per­son is a suc­cess­ful one. He is not undis­ci­plined or hay­wire in per­sonal, pro­fes­sional or so­cial sit­u­a­tions and deal­ings.

Ul­ti­mately, it is not about us. It is about how our words and ac­tions will shape those watch­ing us, those who look up to us.

Chil­dren are great im­i­ta­tors; give them some­thing great to im­i­tate.

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