Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Sex-ed backlash unfair, over the top

Published:Saturday | November 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM


It was disheartening to read The Gleaner report, 'No more sex ed at children's homes' (November 6, 2014). Finally, we are hearing from one of the administrators in the homes affected by the JFJ sex-ed controversy.

The Jamaicans for Justice sex-ed programme, for instance, was blown way out of proportion, and I strongly believe the minister of youth and culture must now realise that the programme was actually very much so appropriate and relevant given the situation in these homes.

Children in homes and shelters tend to be sexually active at a young age. They are vulnerable, some have been abused, others have psychological problems coming from broken or dysfunctional homes which lead to early sexual activity that helps to fill a void emotionally.

We can teach or preach abstinence all we like, but these youths should also be able to make informed decisions if they choose to be sexually active. We are dealing with sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancies and a host of other problems that, ultimately, will impact our society adversely. As adults, we cannot just sit back and wait for consequences.

As Sister Susan Frazer pointed out, "The issue of sex, homosexuality, HIV/AIDS and all of that is like a danger zone; you don't go there, you don't talk about it [in Jamaica]".

The withdrawal of the programme will be detrimental to these youths. We must not be so naïve to think that by not providing sex-ed, these youths will opt to refrain from sexual experimentation. The backlash and controversy was unnecessary and unfair to the parties involved.

The uproar was led by a few simple-minded persons, with fundamentalist church affiliation. They get overly emotional at the mention of the words 'sex' or 'sexuality'.

Our Government must confront the type of backlash, largely driven by ignorance, with a higher degree of firmness, decisiveness and effective public relations. They must never allow fear or politics to get in the way of making decisions that move the country forward.