Though it contributes to the continuation of the human race, sex is treated as if it is downright dirty. The social taboos and cultural mystery associated with it prevent parents from openly discussing it with their children. Parents, BETHSHEBA ACHITSA writes, only take notice when their teenage daughter becomes pregnant or sons suffer from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
Though the youth of the 21st century are sexually active before marriage, their parents are not discussing sex-related issues with them while girls take pride in the number of their sex partners.
Recently when the G10 women lobby group publicly asked women to join in the national 8-night, 7-day sex boycott to force political reforms in Kenya, we agreed that it was too obscene for them to say such things before children who should not know what their parents do in the bedroom. However this got me thinking about how many parents talk to their children about love, sex and marriage.
While many parents would want to pretend that their children are not only timid but innocent when it comes to sex, it is obvious that these children are both curious and seeking information from other people who, instead of guiding them in the right direction, lure them into early sex, drugs and other immoral acts.
Suddenly a society of young people reeling in despair is emerging, mainly because parents are sticking to traditions when it comes to matters of sex that they still regard a taboo subject to talk about. Children are experimenting with everything within their reach; girls are using contraceptives in order to avoid pregnancy, but are too ignorant of other dangers that they are exposed to when it comes to sex-related diseases. Has anyone ever talked to them about the side effects of cfertain contraceptives?
Schools where children spend most of their time do not hold any sessions to talk about AIDS, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The guidance and counseling departments do not offer much help to students; like parents, teachers in charge of these departments only come in contact with the children when some are being sent back home because they are on their way to becoming mothers.
Teachers should realise that young people do not only need information on HIV/AIDS but that they also need guidance on how to deal with peer pressure. Therefore they need to educate children about issues of sexuality, relationships and love.
It is too unfortunate that western lifestyle is replacing the traditional African family set up in which children would be educated about sex by members of the extended family. Time has come for parents to talk about these issues with their children.
Long gone are the times when children would be told that their younger siblings had been bought from markets and hospitals. Parents should not assume that as the children grow they will discover about their sex life through osmosis.
While many contend that books are the best ways of enlightening children about sexuality, a parent’s advice would greatly complement literature. After all most of the education materials carry western explanations which have too little understanding of the African society.
While reading is a way of knowing, one needs to question the fundamental assumptions on which international books and magazines are based. The only way to bridge the huge gap between local and western explanations and interpretations about marriage, love and sex.