Kenya: To Curb Teenage Pregnancies, Teach Children Sex Education

opinion

Young people face many challenges, and today I choose to share one that many adults would rather not talk about - sex education.

In our society, parents, church leaders and teachers shun talking about sex with adolescents despite the teenage pregnancy crisis. Sex is a natural part of life.

Sad as it may be, young people, including school children, are engaging in sex. According to a recent Youth Risk Behavioural Surveillance Survey, 41 percent of high school students said they had had sex at least once; 11.5 percent had more than one sexual partner; 57 percent of sexually active students had used condoms while only 18 percent had used birth control pills.

Even though comprehensive sex education does not necessarily discourage teenagers from having sex, it teaches them how to have safe sex. Parents can play a very vital role educating their children on reproductive health.

However, studies in sub-Saharan Africa show that majority of parents aren't comfortable engaging in such talks with their teens.

Some are strong believers in myths on sex education -- like sharing such information encourages and normalises teenage sex, goes against religious values, imposes foreign cultures, et cetera.

Sex education

Parents' hostile attitudes towards romantic relationships among teens discourage their children from disclosing their relationship status.

Parents should avoid "abstinence-only" lectures and instead focus on giving these teenagers safer options. Sex education should also be more than one-time chat and should be introduced in our curriculum, especially in secondary schools.

With the ongoing roll-out of the competence-based curriculum (CBC), it is time the Education ministry took the bold step.

The government should also train teachers on sex education and deploy them to our primary and secondary schools.

It is the right thing to do if Prof George Magoha's team is to save our generation from teen pregnancies, early marriages, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV and Aids.

Stanslaus Abina, 19, is a mass communication and journalism student at Chuka University.

Are you aged 10-20 and would like to be Nation's young reporter? Email your 400-600-word article to diversity@ke.nationmedia.com

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