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WORD VIEW: Undoing a society

Esther Phillips

WORD VIEW: Undoing a society

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Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner made the perhaps not-so-shocking disclosure, based on her research, that our young people are continuing to be promiscuous, thereby placing themselves at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other forms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Apparently, some young people remain unaware of the ways in which these diseases are contracted and continue to engage in the most preposterous methods of prevention, if any at all.
All this at a time when there is a plethora of information on STDs and how best to avoid contracting them. All this when books, pamphlets, posters, documentaries and the Internet are available.
How could such ignorance abound in the midst of so much education?
Senator Sandiford-Garner went on to say that the behaviour of the young, if it remains unchecked, will bring to nothing all the advances our society has made so far. An exaggeration? I don’t think so. Every society is at the mercy of its succeeding generations.
The problem of sexual promiscuity cannot be ignored. Its implications are too serious, especially in a small economy such as ours: the high cost of health care, the loss of productivity in the workforce, the number of children left orphaned when young parents die leaving their children in the care of elderly grandparents who can hardly look after themselves; the depleted sense of self-worth and its resulting effect on the entire society.
If there were an easy answer, we most likely would have found it already. What compounds the problem is that the sex drive is one of the most powerful of human instincts. To control this urge among present-day teenagers seems similar to pushing against a tsunami with a teaspoon.
What are some possible solutions? We have to talk to our children about sex, which for many of us is a very difficult thing to do. I can think of one highly educated woman right now whose daughter, in her early 20s, says that her mother has never talked to her about sex.
The mother is in a constant state of denial: her daughter, as far as she is concerned, would not think of indulging in any such activity. Needless to say, this mother has been mistaken for a number of years now. The young woman admits to having found herself in situations which she might have been able to avoid had she been able to confide in her mother.
Many of us women, because of our upbringing, are uncomfortable about our own sexuality.
I also find it an interesting coincidence that Mrs Sandiford-Garner was recently addressing some secondary school female students and encouraging them to wear their natural hairstyles. The senator was attempting to help the young women become comfortable with themselves without feeling the need to resort, for example, to the Asian wig or the weave.
It is true that hair is only one factor in the building of self-image, but it is generally accepted that young girls who have developed a certain confidence in themselves are less likely to indulge in promiscuous behaviour.
Fathers also need to pay more attention to their daughters. The “Sugar Daddy” syndrome is a known factor in the spread of STDs. While several young women may be after material gain in their relationships with older men, I believe there are others searching for the love and emotional security they never knew in a father. This need is easily exploited by older and more experienced males.
And yes, foolish as it may seem, abstinence for both males and females must be encouraged since this is still the best protection against HIV/AIDS and other related diseases.
The detriment done to the psyche is also an area of concern, since an increasing number of the young may develop an unhealthy cynicism from too early an involvement in sexual liaisons that cannot fulfil them emotionally.
All efforts to bring about change in the young must be aimed at the entire individual. An educational system that encourages the development of analytical skills and critical judgement may result in fewer young people jumping on any bandwagon that passes.
The society as a whole must begin to place emphasis on the moral and spiritual values that allow our young to see themselves not as mere sex machines headed for the hospital and the cemetery, but rather, as individuals who are free to live wholesome lives.