Let’s talk about sex – at home and at school

CityPress - - Voices -

At the SA Aids Con­fer­ence in Dur­ban this week, del­e­gates heard that 11% of South African chil­dren had started hav­ing sex be­fore the age of 15 and that con­dom use was de­clin­ing.

This is cause for con­cern, as new in­fec­tions have re­mained steadily high – 400 000 recorded an­nu­ally.

This de­spite the in­roads made in the past decade – mother-to-child trans­mis­sion has been low­ered, life ex­pectancy has in­creased by 10 years and HIV and Aids-re­lated deaths have sig­nif­i­cantly de­creased.

But it feels as though we take one step for­ward and two back ev­ery time any ac­tion is taken to curb this pan­demic.

In an at­tempt to curb the in­fec­tion of young chil­dren, the depart­ment of ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion said it wanted to in­crease sex ed­u­ca­tion. This would in­clude sup­ply­ing con­doms at schools so chil­dren could ac­cess them.

While the de­bate raged over whether sup­ply­ing con­doms would im­prove sex ed­u­ca­tion or re­sult in chil­dren en­gag­ing in sex at a younger age, the role of par­ents in teach­ing chil­dren about sex should not be ig­nored.

Af­ter all, the best ed­u­ca­tion starts at home and this should be sup­ple­mented by teach­ers.

It is un­der­stand­able that some par­ents are hor­ri­fied that their 10- and 11-year-olds need to be en­light­ened about the de­tails of sex and preg­nancy – but tough times re­quire un­ortho­dox so­lu­tions.

Par­ents can cush­ion this shock by start­ing their own con­ver­sa­tions at home.

So­ci­ety has to do more than look at gov­ern­ment to deal with the HIV/Aids scourge.

Fam­i­lies are the foun­da­tions of our so­ci­ety – and HIV/Aids is our col­lec­tive prob­lem.

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