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EDITORIAL: Teaching Children Will Remove Inhibitions That Lead To Wrong Choices

Sex education is still shunned in parts of Fiji because it is culturally insensitive to talk about it openly among relatives. It’s one of the reasons why we continue to
02 Oct 2015 10:10
EDITORIAL: Teaching Children  Will Remove Inhibitions That Lead To Wrong  Choices

Sex education is still shunned in parts of Fiji because it is culturally insensitive to talk about it openly among relatives.
It’s one of the reasons why we continue to be alarmed by the increasing number of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies.
From January to September this year, 103 cases of teenage pregnancies were recorded. The youngest was a 14-year-old and the oldest 18.
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Rosy Akbar has highlighted the issue.
To effectively address the issue, there needs to be more public discussion out there in the communities to create public awareness and empower people to deal with the problem instead of ignoring it because it is not cool to discuss it.
That’s the old stereotype. It is shameful to openly talk about it. Sex and its related issues have a considerable impact on individual lives, families and communities.
Their social and economic implications are far-reaching. They put a lot of pressure on our resources.
Take for example, the 14-year-old. It’s more than likely that her baby will be looked after by her family if they accept that she had made a mistake. In some cultures, she will be ostracised, disowned and banished from the family for bringing disrepute it.
Her child may end up in an orphanage putting additional pressure on that organisation. She may decide to tough it out and survive on her own living with strangers. At 14, she has little experience about being independent, let alone becoming pregnant. She needs to get back to school, resume her education and get a qualification and a job to look after herself and her child.
But the question that needs to be addressed is how we can avoid teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
In a world of promiscuity that we live in the risks of our young people getting enticed and sucked in are high.
It’s a clash of cultures, the core traditional values anchored by religious principles versus the liberal values of the entertainment world .
It’s this clash that is causing a lot of families and parents anxiety, despair and pain.
It is not known whether the statistics include victims of sexual abuse through rape, indecent assault and incest.
But all these offences should be part of our public discussion.
Our children are vulnerable to predators who prey on their innocence and fragility. Girls and boys under the age of 18 are regarded as sexual minors which means anyone having any sexual relations with them by mutual consent or otherwise is breaking the law. That means the men who impregnated the teenagers broke the law and should be held accountable.
If we fail to take this issue seriously then a time will come when making an under-age girl pregnant will be part of the norm and acceptable.
We have stressed repeatedly in this column the important role that the parents play in the home.
If they are carrying out their responsibilities in raising their children most of these pitfalls can be avoided.
First, they should be open and frank in teaching their children about sex education reinforced by their cultural and religious values in a simple DO’s and DON’Ts list.
Children need to know the consequences of making the wrong choice and the right choice.
A holistic approach to teaching our children will empower them to make the right choices as they face a challenging world.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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