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17.11.2005 Health

Let’s Talk About Sex…

By Ayiku, Charles Nii
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The word S-E-X has been associated with social taboos and cultural mystery. Even though it contributes to the continuation of the human race, it is treated as if it is unnatural and even down right dirty. This and other stigma attached to sex makes parents scared about discussing it with their children. Sex in the new millennium is filled with risks - both emotional and physical. Gone are the days when the only worry the sexually active teen had was unwanted pregnancy. Girls especially were more worried. This wonderful millennium ushered in a new revolution fueled by rampant STDs, high teen pregnancy rates and the incurable AIDS virus.

AIDS is on the rise among teens and the fact is, if you are sexually active, you can get it.

Even though I don’t have the exact figures, I believe a considerable number of Ghanaian young people of10-24 years are sexually active and as such needs a kind of comprehensive sex education so as to prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

These young people should also have access to appropriate, comprehensive information about sex, sexuality and the consequences of bringing children into the world. This will build their decision-making skills to help protect them from pressure to have sex, unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

In this article, I wish to contribute the following towards the efforts been made by parents in helping children understand the issues of sex:

• If talking with your child about sex is difficult for you, admit it. Keep a sense of humor. Do not be shy about it.

• Use TV, movies, articles, and real-life situations such as a friend's pregnancy to begin talking about sex. I quite remember when we were very young; my mum will always use television programmes and films to talk to us about sex.Whenever there is a drama or issue on pregnancy being discussed, she would immediately start talking about it to us.

• Share your values regarding sex. If you believe a person should save having sex until marriage, say so. Accept that your child may choose to have sex despite your values.

• Don't assume that if your child asks questions about sex, he or she is necessarily thinking about having sex.

• Ask your child what he or she wants to know about sex. If you don't know an answer, admit it. Find answers with your child in books or other resources.

• Talk with your child about reasons to wait to have sex. Remind your child that he or she can choose to wait (abstain) even if he or she has had sex before.

• Reassure your child that not everyone is having sex and that it is okay to be a virgin. The decision to become sexually active is too important to be based on what other people think or do.

• Talk with your child about ways to handle pressure from others to have sex. To feel comfortable talking openly with you, your child needs to know that you will not punish him or her for being honest. Let your child trust you.

• Leave age-appropriate articles or books about teenage sexuality around your home. Your child will pick them up on his/her own and read them.

• You may also find resources such as books, videos etc., from a lot of good organizations and Youth Centres like the Young and Wise Center of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana. These centers have a lot of resources that would help in the proper development of your child’s sexual and reproductive health.Visit them soon.

Finally, you should also remember to talk to your child often; your first talk with your child about sex should not be your last! Talk with your child about sex often. Let your child know that you are always willing to talk about any question, issue or concern he or she may have about sex.

So Parents in Ghana, all the Parents in Africa, louder now, Come on - let's talk about SEX! Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.