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Parents should be candid with children about sex

Data availed by the Ministry of Health in April this year shows that one in every five girls aged between 15 and 19 years is either a mother already, or is pregnant with their first child. [iStockphoto]

A reality that society is reluctant to face came out forcefully at the outset of this year’s national examinations. Sexual immorality pervades the ranks of youth in this country, and the problem demands immediately attention. 

As a consequence of the immorality, there has been an alarming spike in sexually transmitted infections among youths beside rising cases of teenage pregnancies.

Data availed by the Ministry of Health in April this year shows that one in every five girls aged between 15 and 19 years is either a mother already, or is pregnant with their first child. 

The ministry reported that it handled 45,724 cases of pregnant adolescents aged 10 to 19 years between January and February 2022. Out of these cases, 2,196 were as a result of sexual and gender-based violence in victims aged between 12 and 17 years.

A 2021 report by National Crime Research Centre blames the rise in teenage pregnancies on gender-based violence during the Covid-19 pandemic, defilement, attempted defilement, early marriages, and female genital mutilation.

But while this might be true, it is not lost on many that an information gap on sexuality is partly to blame. Cultural mores make it taboo for parents to discuss matters of sex with their children.

Some Christian values have stood in the way of introduction of sex education in schools. That vacuum leaves youth to their own devices and the results are alarming.

Time for collective action to remedy the situation is now. Youth should be assisted to understand inevitable bodily changes, some which, due to ignorance, lead them astray. Adage has it that forewarned is to be forearmed.

Parents should talk to their children and teach them about the dangers of boy/girl relationships and indulgence in sex. Society cannot continue to bury its head in the sand, bound by outdated cultural mores and religious beliefs that expose the youth to more harm than it intends to cure.