BECAUSE COVID-19 has the country in an unprecedented turmoil, many teenagers have lost their sense of direction. Unfortunately, they have a lot of time on their hands and most have no idea if, and when, things will return to normalcy, to enable them to get on with their lives. Most parents know that children with time on their hands are a recipe for trouble; therefore, children with time on their hands during a pandemic can be catastrophic.
During this unexpected phase, adults need to be extremely vigilant with their teenagers and take heed of where they go, who they will be with and what time they will be home. The average age that a child will start having sexual intercourse is 17 years so keep an eye on your teenagers and try to keep them gainfully occupied. Younger children should not be left out of this equation; they too indulge in sexual activity through curiosity, peer pressure, or due to lack of parental supervision and guidance.
Some parents make the mistake of treating their tall children (aged 12 – 15) as if they are adults. They allow them free range to go and come as they choose. They are still children, regardless of how tall they get; and no matter how they ‘full eyes’ they are still in need of guidance, monitoring, questioning (about where they go and what they’re up to) and nurturing. Having sex at 17 years old or younger, is far too early, there is still so much they do not know about, life and their emotions
Sex is a physical act with many emotional and psychological components; and adolescents on their transitional road to adulthood, are too immature to acknowledge the long-term effect of their actions, or consider the potential consequences that may ensue.
In these times, Guyanese adults need to alert their teenagers more than ever about the importance of abstinence, self-respect and contraception. We have all heard the clichés, such as, ‘pick up your book’ ‘don’t study boys, they only after one thing’ or ‘leave the people girl child alone, I don’t want no baby on my doorstep’.
Now is the time to enlighten teenagers as to why they should pick up their books and why sexual activity is best kept on the back burner until they are old enough for a mature (or committed) relationship.
Why teenagers should pick up their book: Teenagers should pick up their books because reading is a life-long skill that empowers them. Many people have educated themselves on worldwide topics through reading and can now share their knowledge with others.
Stories can transport you to another time and place. They can feed your imagination and build your creativity and vocabulary. Once children have a desire for reading and enjoying books, they can achieve high levels of education in the field of their choice.
How to teach abstinence: It is easier to teach pre-adolescents and teenagers about healthy relationships, self-respect and celibacy if you have always had an ‘open’ relationship with them. ‘Open’ in the sense that, the discussion of taboo subjects (puberty, sex, contraception, etc.) have taken place naturally, age-appropriately and in the best interest of the child.
Children tend to develop a sense of self-worth and confidence when they have this type of relationship with adults. Therefore, choosing to abstain would make perfect sense. They are guided towards a positive sense of direction and very seldom are drawn into early sexual encounters, preferring to achieve set goals and even ambitions.
Why children should learn about contraception: It is advisable to talk to teenagers about contraception, to avoid unwanted pregnancies and to prevent the spread of STDs. Adolescents need relevant information so that they can make informed choices. As adults we all know that if young people want to meet up, unless they are under house arrest, 24/7, they will find a way to do so.
Let’s not fool ourselves about sex. Sex is a part of our existence; we cannot deny the laws of physical and spiritual attraction. It is natural for young people and adolescents to have a curiosity or interest in their reproductive organs.
A problem arises, however, when the young person has not been guided correctly and becomes easily influenced by the wrong people. When older people or peers inspire the opinion or decision-making of a teenager, it usually has negative results. Parents should always be the first and best teachers in their children’s lives, and during these times, their guidance is needed more than ever.
Most teenagers may prefer to be alone in their personal world on a computer or cell phone, and in some cases, parents are no better. This behaviour creates a divide between parent and child, leading to a lack of communication, but communication is the key right now.
If you cannot connect with children, then you cannot correct them, talk to them, guide them, monitor them or care for them in the right way. Parents, take time out to find out what is going on in your children’s lives, especially the adolescents who are left to find ways to occupy their time.
Extraordinary times call for extra special alertness; stay vigilant, give good advice, stay close to your children.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at email@example.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY, MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY