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Parents should open up to children about sexuality

IT IS a known fact that some teenagers are involved in unprotected sex. This poses challenges on their health and in fighting against early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Teenagers are involved in risk and sometimes life-threatening activities like unsafe sex, alcohol and drug abuse largely because they fall prey to peer pressure and the influence of the media.

Lack of parental guidance is another factor blamed on risky lifestyles that some teenagers have adopted.
Unlike in past years, nowadays teenagers as young as 12 years old are sexually active.
Sadly in some cases, they engage in sex without negotiating the use of condoms thereby risking contracting HIV and other sexually-transimitted diseases or becoming pregnant.
Although the Ministry of Health and partners have undertaken to create awareness programmes on HIV and AIDS, condom use, teenage pregnancy, young people are having unprotected sex.
It was not a surprise or mere co incidence that the Minister in charge of Central Province Sydney Mushanga talked about unsafe sex among youths during this year’s Health Week which was under the theme “Promoting wellness for all”.
If the number of teens involving themselves in illicit sex is on the increase, Mr Mushanga noted, this implies that there is a problem which needs to be nipped in the bud if HIV is to be eradicated among young people.
This issue, therefore, deserves attention from society as a whole, parents inclusive. It is a problem that society needs to pay attention to and deal with as part of safeguarding the well-being of young people, the future parents and leaders.
Unlike in past years when the responsibility of talking about sexuality with children was left in the hands of grandparents, aunties or uncles, things have changed due to several factors, among them economic matters and the break down of the extended family system.
This leaves parents and immediate guardians in the whole picture primary educators and trainers of young people.
And part of their parental syllabus should include matters of sexuality especially in the wake of HIV and AIDS.
Wise parents and guardians cannot afford the luxury of waiting for grandparents, aunties or uncles when young people are bombarded day and night with matters of sex.
Young people are exposed to sexually explicit images on magazines, films, music videos, and social media.
Their discussions with their peers at school or in the community sex, girlfriends and boyfriends.
With such a scenario parents and guardians are the first line of defence when it comes to matters of sexually with their children and dependents.
Teachers at school and other community leaders will just supplement concerning parents and guardians at home are doing.
As parents discuss matters of sexuality, they should not shy away from discussing abstinence and the use of condoms if they know that their children are already sexually, active.
Being in denial or simply burying the head in the sand that one’s child is sexually, active will not help.
We live in a hyper world where HIV is having its toll effect on the productive age group. Many teens are infected with HIV.
HIV still remains one of the most serious challenges to global public health. It is important to promote programmes that help young people lessen risky sexual behaviours by encouraging condom use, delay in sexual initiation, partner reduction, and early HIV testing and treatment.
If young people are armed with factual information of reproductive health, they are able to make informed decisions about sex, abstinence and so forth.
As, a saying goes, ‘Charity begins at home’, and, parents and guardians have the responsibility discussing matters of sexuality with their children and dependents.
The author is a
correspondent at Zambia Daily Mail