Globally, there is a large-scale ignorance that pervades the lives of young people on the subject of sex. This ignorance is so endemic in the lives of these youngsters that they fumble and wobble into maturity through bitter lessons in sexual experimentation.
In Western Nigeria, sexuality education is predicated on the societal moral values. In safeguarding the traditional family structure, these values demand, among other things, that a woman be properly courted and married before starting a family. Hence, a fully blossomed but unmarried twenty something year-old female college student will be scared stiff of getting pregnant outside wedlock. Even when the spinster does feel like going all the way with the man in her life, she will most likely insist on safe sex.
In some other parts of the Third world, sexuality education is dictated by a fanatical adherence to certain religious or cultural principles. Tragically, these principles which are largely barbaric and detrimental to women and children are sustained merely in the protection of male chauvinism rather than a societal moral fiber.
Prior to my arrival in the Western world and especially, the United States, I used to imagine a Utopian environment where almost everyone had a sophisticated approach to the subject of sex. Alas! I have since realized, much to my dismay, that sexuality education is as much needed in the Western world, as it is in the Third world.
In America, for instance, sexuality education is premised on a rigid sermon of abstinence and legislations. It’s a statutory rape when an 18-year-old has sex with a 16-year-old. It’s however a different kettle of fish when a 16-year-old has sex with a 12-year-old. Usually, with the prevailing orientation towards unprotected sex, the 12-year-old will get pregnant.
Ironically, in America where an individual must be licensed to perform the most basic of chores, parenting is hardly paid any attention. Therefore, in a society where an experienced, elderly grandmother needs a license to baby-sit a couple of kids, a 12-year-old needs only a pregnancy.
Unfortunately, when babies have babies, the consequential social malady does not just start and end with a population explosion. Rather, it has the multiplying effects of child abuses, teenage sex, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and others. Before we know it, the 12-year-old nursing mother of yesterday becomes a grandmother at 24 with history repeating itself in a vicious circle.
Amidst this social epidemic is the constant brouhaha between the Pro-Choice and the Pro-Life groups. While both groups mean well, one might want to ask if they ever heard of sexuality education. Apart from unwanted pregnancy, sexuality education as a preventive measure, also tackles the problem of STDs. And while HIV/AIDS are the current popular jingo, there are other rarely-mentioned but equally deadly and traumatic STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis and herpes that are on a global rampage.
We all know how difficult it is for parents and guardians to talk to their youngsters about sex. The usual question is where does one start? Besides, to many parents, they are just kids…even when a teenage girl has become a sweet sixteen to some leering, dirty old men. And a boy is becoming restless with some super-charged hormones.
Already, the UNICEF, Ford Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation, UNFPA, SIECUS, Kaiser Family Foundation, Girls Incorporated, Oprah’s Angel Network, The National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Campaign For Our Children and several other organizations are devoted to guiding some young people on effective life planning.
To support these organizations, parents and their youngsters don’t really have to sit down to a round table discussion that embarrasses everyone. Except for toddlers, young people can be equipped with an appropriate educational material. With this material and a positive parental influence, they will have a clear understanding of the grave choices they have to take prior to a sexual adventure.
Femi Olawole is a Delaware (United States) resident. His newly published literary novel, The Price Of a Reckless Past, has sexuality education as its primary theme. More information on the book can be obtained at: http://www.freewebs.com/femibook The author himself can be reached at email@example.com