HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsHow much should children know about sexual matters?

How much should children know about sexual matters?

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There has been so much fuss about the recommendation from a consultant hired by the National Aids Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) that seeks to review and hormonise existing policies on HIV.

Some of the recommendations that have stirred debate stipulate that contraceptives should be made readily available in schools. They also stipulate the mandatory placement of condoms in hotels, nightclubs and beer halls.

Some sections of our society were quick to condemn the move but statistics show a worrying increase of school boys and girls that are engaging in sex resulting in a soaring rate of school dropouts.

If sex education is part of the school curriculum then how do we avoid the subject on condom usage given that Zimbabwe is one of the countries in sub Saharan Africa that has one of the highest HIV and Aids prevalence rates?

A rural school teacher who recently attended a workshop on HIV and Aids revealed that the sex education curriculum was not adequately meeting the challenges facing schoolchildren.

She said her school had received regular reports of schoolchildren that were being intimate in the bushes.

Zimbabwe is currently faced with a population of children and youths that were born with HIV who are looking healthy and strong.

These have defied earlier researches that reported such children would not survive beyond their fifth birthday.

What measures are in place to ensure that they do not spread the virus?

A few years ago a local pastor with a Pentecostal church confirmed that he had received reports of children from his church that had engaged in sexual activities at a Christian youth camp somewhere in Harare.

Although the matter was never really brought up for discussion, the church is vital in shaping morals but it is unfortunate that sex matters are never really talked about at the pulpit.

A colleague recently told me about two teenagers at yet another Pentecostal church in Mabelreign were caught exchanging pornographic video sites during a church service.

A parent in Harare’s Avenues area had this to say: “I was shocked to discover that my 10-year-old niece was shacking up with a neighbour’s 11 year old son. When I asked them when and how they started this they said they had watched pornographic movies and ended up having sex.
They had been doing this for months.

“The movies had apparently been given to them by friends at school.”

No protection was used during their sexual encounters, she said.

A male divorcee claims that he got home in Eastlea unexpectedly one afternoon, and discovered used condoms in the lounge where he lived with his only child, a daughter aged 13 then.

He was so devastated but did not have the courage to ask the daughter about the matter. “I am wondering when exactly she started having sex.” But he was comforted by the fact that she had at least used protection.

Sex is a subject that is taboo in most homes but this is what has caused many girl children to drop out of school. Some unfortunately also acquire HIV and Aids which sometimes is discovered when it is too late.

An old friend Thandi who now lives in South Africa was once confronted by her son who wanted to know what sex is. The boy further inquired what a condom is used for. He was hardly five years old then. She was speechless.

This happened when the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation embarked on a nationwide television and radio campaign for condom use to mitigate the spread of HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe.

The campaign known as the ABC strategy (Abstinence, be faithful, use a condom), carried distinct and forthright messages that were also hung on billboards around urban centres.

That was an approach quickly condemned particularly by the church that is guided by the Bible which does not compromise on premarital sex.
The Bible calls it fornication.

But whether we like it or not, Christians and non Christians alike are engaging in premarital sex. But what is most worrying is the fact that much younger children are now involved.

“There is just too much pornography being shown on television. Adults spend so much time at work leaving children at the mercy of Internet websites and so what do we do faced with such a real problem?” said Togarepi of Marimba Park.

However, an article on Mail Online quotes researchers attributing the stress of family breakdowns as some of the reasons causing children to reach puberty earlier and hence engage in sex much earlier than previously expected.

The report says the age at which adolescents mature had fallen by more than three years over the last century.

NAC boss Tapuwa Mugure said a lot needs to be done to improve programmes for children and youths in schools.

“There was a 30% increase in sexually transmitted diseases between 2009 and 2010,” he reported in NACs quarterly bulletin.

People with STIs are possible carriers of the virus that causes Aids. What then is the best way to approach this topic both at home and school? Let us hear your views.

•Feedback:rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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