Do you know that few young people receive adequate preparation for their sexual lives? With this in consideration these young people are potentially vulnerable to coercion, abuse and exploitation, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
When we were growing up our aunties gave us the ‘Ssenga’ brief of being a woman and the uncles talked to the boys, now days the young people are for themselves and the internet for God all of us.
Many young people approach adulthood faced with conflicting and confusing messages about sexuality and gender which has left them feeling embarrassed, silent and disapproving open discussion of sexual matters by adults, including parents and teachers, at the very time when it is most needed.
Globally, comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV among both young men and young women has increased slightly since 2003—but at only 34%, the number of young people with this comprehensive knowledge is only slightly greater than one third of the UNGASS target of 95%.
So what does this mean?
It means we need to go where the young people go for this information and leave it there for them to find. That is our role as adults who care about the next generation.
The church should favour more comprehensive approaches to sex education. Many denominations within these traditions have become involved in sex education, both within their congregations and within their communities. Some have gone so far as to develop their own curricula.
Although program implementation at the local level is not widespread and challenges remain, churches, synagogues and other places of worship that offer sexual ethics and comprehensive education programs play a critical role in the lives of young people. They also are important advocates for full and honest information in the public debate over sex education.
Over the years, life skills education programs that include sexual and reproductive health information have proven to be effective in delaying the onset of sexual intercourse and, among sexually experienced youth, in increasing the use of condoms and decreasing the number of sexual partners.
Young people are exposed to numerous influences upon their sexual attitudes and behaviours every day from the media, their peers, their parents, and other adults. Sex education/family life education is valuable in its ability to truthfully educate young people about sex and its risks, to provide them with knowledge to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STIs, including HIV infection.
Young people must have accurate and sufficient information to make responsible choices and to become responsible adults. Teaching correct information about sexuality or any other topic in school does not prevent any parent from teaching and modeling values and expectations in the home, rather it should assist parents in providing opportunities for family communication.
References on media and adolescent sexuality can be found in the Resource Guide: Children, Adolescents, and the Media on this site.