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Concern about the emotional and sexual health of our youth

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Kizito Lubano | August 12th 2015

MyGyno Limited, an online start-up on Sexual and Reproductive health practice in Nairobi has, in the recent past, been inundated with hundreds of calls, text messages and mail from concerned parents, guardians and youths as the August school holidays begin.

The running theme is about preventing pregnancy, drug abuse and sexually transmitted infections among school-going youths which has been a problem during school holidays.

The extent to which parents are, or should be, involved in their adolescent children's sexual and reproductive health decisions is a complicated issue.

The public policy debate over whether teenagers should be allowed to obtain reproductive health services confidentially or required to involve their parents dates back to the 1970s.

This was when teen sexual activity became increasingly visible and teen pregnancy was first deemed a national social problem.

Further to this, in the past one month, there have been a number of reports on how school exam pressure is having a terrible impact on the mental well-being of teenagers with doctors prescribing anti-depressants such as Prozac and Seroxat to help young people deal with stress.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

We have all witnessed the increasing spate of violence that has been experienced in schools culminating in three students facing murder charges.

This type of violence not only has immediate but future implications for our nation because undisciplined learners, who do not reform by the time they leave school, can easily be recruited into criminal activities such as carjacking or armed robberies.

With this in mind, we must ensure violence in schools is minimised, if not stamped out altogether. This will not only cater to the learners' wellbeing but also to society at large.

Parents should also not shy away from discussing sexuality issues with their children for if they do not, someone else will and could end up misleading them.

We need to do more to protect young people, help them develop resilience and support them when they find life hard to cope with.

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