By Jaevion Nelson
SEX EDUCATION for children in school MUST be rejected. It is a covert Western strategy to teach our children all sorts of things, which are anaemic to their psychological development. It influences them to become sexually active before marriage from a very tender age.
It is imperative that we all appreciate that no child should be tortured like this. As Christians, it is our duty to ensure our children are protected from these harmful lessons. Sex education — as they call it — should have no place in our schools. Let them go to North America or England for that sort of training. We only need to teach our Jamaican children about abstinence so they uphold Christian values. We must be vigilant. We cannot squander our privilege and continue to be so silent!
What a travesty! You must be saying I sound ridiculous, but this must have been the reasoning used by those who crusaded and ambushed the fears of parents last September until the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) Curriculum was withdrawn.
Now more than three months have passed since Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites promised a revised HFLE Curriculum and I haven't seen anything in the media as yet. Kudos, ye Christian brethren. Pat yourselves on the shoulders, you have done well. There is most certainly a place in heaven for you.
Are you aware that comprehensive sex education is not about promoting sexual initiation. It is a holistic curriculum which caters to the needs of all students — both sexually and non-sexually active. Therefore, it includes, among other things, lessons about abstinence, condom use and faithfulness. There is no way this information motivates children to become sexually active. This is the function of their hormones, not the education they receive.
Did you know that last year 221 Jamaicans became infected with HIV every month? That's a total of 50 Jamaicans per week, or seven every day. Further, among young people between age 15 and 24, there were 396,660 potential cases of HIV infection because 42 per cent of them do not use condoms, or choose only to use it sometimes. I don't mean to frighten you, but this is the sort of information I am forced to digest every day I go to work.
Sadly, too many people are parading in their ignorance — screaming for attention to retard any progress intended for the best interest of the child. And in a most outrageous charade they wear veils, and skirt around the issue of sex and sexuality, particularly where children and youth are concerned. And while they do this, our young people (15-24 years) have been rejecting correct/traditional ways to prevent HIV in the last three Knowledge, Attitudes, Behaviour & Practices (KABP) Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health. In case you are wondering — the correct way include having one faithful partner and abstaining.
So yes, let's continue to ignore the realities of our time. Maybe — just maybe — if we close our eyes hard and long enough things will get better. Never mind the fact that as adults we bombard children and even allow them to view and listen to all sorts of media that are laden with sexually explicit content or have such innuendoes. To be fair, it is impossible for parents and caregivers to censor everything children are exposed to - not in this technological era where everything under the sun is retrievable from the world wide web. Even the Broadcasting Corporation has done its utmost best in this regard.
CENSORSHIP WON'T HELP
Truth be told, no amount of censorship will prevent the significant increase of over 40 per cent of young people who believe withdrawing before ejaculation can prevent HIV transmission. Refusing to adequately address Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual issues in the HFLE curriculum won't help the over 50 per cent of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (many of whom are young) who believe they have little or no chance of being infected with HIV. And abstinence-only sex education will have no effect on over 170,000 sexually active youth who are in multiple sex partnership. Nor will it for those who are in relationships for transactional purposes. By the way, transactional sex relationships is increasing (perhaps for obvious reasons).
In all of this, do not forget we do not really "know" empirically what is happening among children below 15 years.
We don't need another values and attitudes programme to address these urgent matters. The Jamaican values and attitudes— whatever those may be— or the lack thereof that we seek to engender is not the problem. Our quandary is our attitude of responding to issues without empirical evidence and our desire to court morals and approach our professions with our personal convictions. It is in the interest of all of us to ensure that children are afforded age-appropriate information, skills and resources that they desperately need to protect and safeguard their sexual and reproductive health.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org