If there is one issue some parents feel uncomfortable facing when it comes to their young adolescent child, it is sexual activity.
Few parents want to confront the issues of sexual promiscuity or inappropriate sexual behaviour, which has now become a part of the school’s extra-curricular activities. Sexual intercourse for the purpose of this article relates to vaginal, oral and anal sex.
Sex has been creeping into our schools at a steady rate; and is not only prevalent at the secondary level, but primary also. Some primary school pupils, as young as eight and nine, are engaging in all kinds of sexual acts: from touching and fondling to oral sex. Most boys are even masturbating from as early as ten or 11 years.
The transition from child to adult is an especially dangerous stage for adolescents in our society. Our young are being exposed to more conflicting information about sex than ever before.
Their thoughts are being influenced by television, the print media and the Internet, which offers a mind-numbing array of explicit sexual images and presents “sex appeal” as a personal quality each child needs to develop to the fullest.
This has put many school-age children under a great deal of pressure to be sexy and to explore sexual relationships.
Teenagers are at the age where they want to feel adult. Sex hormones are raging through their bodies and they are looking for an avenue of release. This may be done through experimentation with oral, vaginal or anal intercourse, and could be performed at home, at school or at a friend’s.
Oral and anal sex have become so popular among teenagers, that they are performed heterosexually or homosexually. And some girls take this route as a means of protection against pregnancy.
The era of HIV/AIDS should change the attitude of children towards sex; but this is not the case. Many of our promiscuous children do not imagine they would be at risk of developing a life-threatening illness by having sex with their peers. They do not believe “it will happen to me”.
Such behaviour is making the work of the HIV/AIDS Commission more difficult, as its message is one of abstinence for children below the age of consent.
The values parents instil in their children play a significant role in their sexual thinking. If children are equipped with a strong value system, sound knowledge on abstinence, birth control and sexual disease prevention, when they are pressured by their peers they will not wilt.
Some advice for parents:
• Find ample opportunities to express healthy and safe sexual views with your children. Pre-empt their peers teaching them about sex.
• Inform children that early sexual activity is associated with a host of negative outcomes that can have lasting physical, emotional, social, and economic impacts on their lives.
• Having discovered your child is sexually active may unravel a mixture of emotions. Take time to collect your thoughts. Being angry can only escalate conflict.
Parents will get through to their children more successfully with dialogue than with a ranting monologue.
• Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, National Development Scholar and former president of the Early Childhood Association Of Barbados Inc.