Gender Gender

Reproductive health curriculum can help change teen behaviour

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Children's Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
GOING by numerous reports of how young people are engaging in anti-social behaviour including sexual activities, there is certainly need for a sexual reproductive health education curriculum.

It will be one of the practical ways of protecting young people from early pregnancies and being infected from sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) that include HIV and AIDS.

It has become almost the norm to see young people in most public places especially during weekends and public holidays ‘behaving badly’. One can only wonder where they find the money in these hard-economic times to drink and smoke as if there is no tomorrow; in the process, they begin to indulge in risky behaviour that ultimately puts their lives at risk.
During the 2017 Youth Forum, Media Network on Child Rights and Development junior reporter Mwiza Zulu said that the lack of an adequate reproductive health education was one of the key issues that needed to be addressed in Zambia.
Mwiza attributed most of teenage pregnancies to the lack of knowledge because young people are unable to access this very important information.
She said often, young people rely on their peers for information on sexual reproductive rights which is usually inaccurate as it is gathered from unqualified and unreliable sources. And that the exclusion of young people in decision-making processes has resulted in youths feeling left out and neglected. Mwiza was speaking at a youth forum in Arusha, Tanzania, hosted by the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) under the theme Equity, Equality for all girls, boys and youth.
One example to highlight the need of sexual reproductive health education curriculum is the case of where over 70 girls and boys were recently apprehended in Lusaka for allegedly engaging in risky behaviour that included drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual activities.
According to the police, the boys and girls aged between 17 and 20 years who are most susceptible to STIs and especially HIV and AIDS, were apprehended after an alarm was raised by a concerned citizen. Police officers who rushed to the scene, found used condoms and empty beer bottles; an indicator of what could have been happening there.
These are some of the effects of not having a sexual reproductive health education curriculum to protect young people who are often misled due to peer pressure. Whenever people have the correct knowledge, they can make right decisions from an informed position.
The fact that most parents and guardians were shocked to find their children in that environment, highlights the importance of parents and guardians deliberately winning the confidence of young people to be able to impart the correct and relevant information pertaining to sexual and reproductive rights.
Previously, this task was the responsibility of grandparents, in the current set up it is no longer the case; it is now up to parents and guardians to counsel young people, otherwise there is a risk of a generation gap due to risky and anti-social behaviour. It is important for parents and guardians to have that very important discussion often to protect the lives of young people. The sooner parents and guardians realise that times have changed, the easier it will be for them to delve into the difficult topic of the birds and the bees for their children’s sake and protection.
Remember children are our future; until next week, take care.
For comments: pcmalawochilufya@yahoo.com

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