Sex! It is now one of the most popular topics among teens. Not that the idea is a new invention, it has always been with us, however, the popularity it has gained in the last three decades leaves much for concern. With this same level of excitement about sex among our teens, our society will be left in moral tatters within the next 15 years!
And why sex? Why not any other thing but sex? Indeed there are other things plaguing our teens these days that are equally threatening like substance abuse and addiction, “419” (Advance Fee Fraud) prostitution and other social vices. However, sex has got its own place in view of its peculiarity. Sex, unlike drug addiction, is not easily manifested on the person of the one engaged in it no matter how abusive the individual get with it, holding other factors constant: ‘Other factors’ including STDs, unwanted pregnancies, sexual dysfunctions, among others. Unfortunately, sex cannot be discussed without these ‘other factors’.
Sex, to many teenagers, is an enigma and a mystery they want demystified. It is a pleasurable experience worth repeating. And the more they get it the more they crave for it. This creates a swaying influence on the person engaged in it creating pleasurable images that keep shape-shifting until it assumes a more tangible form becoming an over-powering force.
Today’s challenges with adolescent education on sex stem from two source: Our Parents and our current sex educational system.
Parental Challenges on Sex Education
Many parents today wish they could open up a dialogue with their teenagers on this all important aspect of our being, but are unable to regardless of whether it is a pre-emptive step or a foreknowledge that their children are already having sex. The taboo status ascribed to the open discussion of sex in our culture is one major obstacle inhibiting many parents in doing what they know they have to do.
For some parents, the issue is so broad and touches on very delicate aspects of our being that it becomes difficult to cleanly deal with it. For these parents, once the Pandora box is opened they are not so sure whether they can handle what will come out of it. So in the end, they feel it is better closed than opened.
Some of the common questions that comes up with having a talk on sex with teenagers are:
How do I start?
Where do I start?
Where do I stop?
What do I say and what do I omit?
If it is a comprehensive issue, how do I start and stop mid way? What if the child has questions that will threaten the safety of the other information I am keeping form him or her.
The fear of ending up introducing the whole concept to the teen, thereby creating a curiosity, has also kept some parents from taking the starting step in the first place. And the challenge here is that as long as the child is exposed to the topic and left midway, he or she would want to find out in theory what was omitted, and if it is not satisfactory, try it in practice.
Some parents are faced with religious barriers and perception. My son or daughter is a prayer warrior why waste time talking sex with him or her. Why not spend time teaching them about God and other profitable things and leave sex and other temptations for God to handle.
But whatever the barrier maybe, parents had better wake up to the realisation that sex is major force rocking the world of teens and they should find ways of dealing with it in away that will not rather create an unnecessary curiosity. Sex will come up eventually whether to make parents feel sorry because they know their children are having sex at early age or to haunt them out of their sleep because their children have contracted STDs or are very much pregnant!
Challenges of our current mode of sex education
Is sex education just about exposing teens to the complexities of human reproduction - it physiology and anatomy; is it just about demystification of the act of sex or the exposition of the realities of STDs?
I find interesting the kind of sex education we have in our society these days. It is sex education literally defined and it is taught in its straight jacket; it is purely non-religious and morally dry with the only illumination appearing in its anatomy and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and unwanted pregnancies. The moral aspect of sex education has virtually been left in the dark making it look as though it is a secondary concern which, unfortunately, is not so.
It is however worthy of note that any education on sex which is not extended into the domain of morality is bound to create a higher desire and curiosity making it inimical in itself and morality-eating blight without any form of restraint. With our current form of sex education the only thing that restrains teenagers from active sexual engagements is their fear of contraction STDs or getting pregnant, a fear which is fast losing its hold with the proliferation of many forms of preventive medications and actions.
Our current sex education neglects addressing important issues like chastity, self control, channelling of sexual energies into profitable ventures, sexual dysfunctions.
The above and more should feature more in our sex education, and go on to expose to the teenagers the moral and health implications of chastity and/or sexual promiscuity. They should have a comparative education which looks objectively at both sides of the sex scale thereby helping them to chart out a better course for their sex life.
The argument for preaching the expository and preventive aspect of sex education is a very simple one, ‘what if they find themselves doing it anyway?’ This argument, unfortunately, reflects a very lame impression of how society perceives the adolescent! It simply says the adolescent is incapable of self control. But that is not a valid argument!
Besides, that argument means there could be the possibility that the adolescent might get into sex; but there is the other possibility that they might just not do it! If so, why then spend all the resources on just one possibility in a fatalistic manner, whereas there is the other possibility that the teenager also has the capability to abstain and indeed are trying to abstain and therefore must be encouraged to do so.
The question we should be asking ourselves today is whether this kind of sex education has reduced sex related problems among teenagers or has been on the ascendancy? Let us look back in time where sex education was properly done touching on the important issues and make a comparative analysis. If the argument is on civilization and modernisation then the question is are we having a positive civilization or we are reverting into primitiveness. No sustainable development or civilisation leaves the beneficiaries worse off than better off.
I heard a joke on TV. One guy was telling his class how he had gone to the seminary to train as a catholic priest. In one of their studies he was being taught about women, sex and the pleasures of the flesh. And he said the more the lessons progressed the more he realised what he would be missing if he became a priest. So he left the seminary before the second lesson which was to train them on morality and how to control their sexual desires.
Funny as this joke may seem, it portrays the situation we find ourselves in today. We only expose the adolescent to sex in its entirety and place the moral issues in the background as a secondary issue. As long as sex education continue to remain in this path, we will keep spending money on social welfare- if there is any in this country, teenage pregnancy, street children and all their attendant problems because we only tell the adolescent what they will be missing if they abstain without telling them what they would be gaining by abstaining.
Currently we are telling the teenager that we will empower you to go to the drugstore and buy condoms and if by chance it burst or you even forgot to buy it in the first place, then you would be bold to walk into that drugstore and buy the morning after pill! When the opportunity comes and you have to do it, just do it.
If our current form of sex education is the best, why is teenage pregnancy and STD contraction on the increase? I will tell you.
Teenagers are told of the preventives and what sex is, but are not taught the right questions to ask before they choose to have sex. A lot of teenagers literally meet the sexual demand on the way and hop in before they realised they have not asked the proper questions or have not taken the proper precaution!
How many teenagers in our society can walk to a drug store to buy a condom? If they can’t, then they acknowledge what they are doing is not acceptable. And once they have that perception, they will hide and do it; fearfully, quickly and carelessly. They will not ask questions from counsellors, Medical personnel, or even their parents, questions without which they will most likely get themselves into troubles. But once these teenagers acknowledge that pre-marital sex is not good for them, a little help will put them on the part of abstinence.
Increasing drug abuse and alcoholism among teenagers today is also increasing their sexual drive thereby accelerating the spate of teenage pregnancy and STDs.
Again, little knowledge in the ever increasing and confusing types of birth control medications and other preventives and their usage is also making education on their uses a difficult and complicating task. One story is, however, always consistent and the method is the same- abstinence!
To Be Continued
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