OPINION: Don’t blame parents for not talking to kids about sex and sexuality


OPINION: Don’t blame parents for not talking to kids about sex and sexuality

By Alvin Mwangi

Kenya is in a state of lockdown and schools closed, children are at home once again with the parents. What is the role of parents in ensuring safety of their kids from strangers in online, physical and institutions like the church where we have seen and heard religious leaders prey on their own “flock”

In last year’s lockdown we saw a drastic increase in cases around sexual and gender based violence, increase in rape and defilement resulting to increase in HIV infections and teen pregnancies.

Parents, guardians should stop burying their heads and have solutions to issues affecting their children. the adolescents and young people in Kenya are and will continue to face several issues amidst this covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Some of the social, reproductive and health issues that young people in Kenya are facing include little or no access to free range and affordable contraceptive information and services such as condoms; high rates of adolescents and teenage pregnancy; lack of information on menstruation health management (MHM); lack of education on sex and sexuality; no access to safe abortion for sexual violence survivors or post abortion care; drug and substance abuse; HIV/AIDs, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unavailable ante-natal care (ANC) services, harmful practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage as wells as sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) including child abuse.

Some parents have lost touch with their children, leaving them to the full care of house managers among other guardians.

I choose not to blame or shame parents. they probably don’t have factual information and anyone would hate to be condemned or even judged by a parent on something they are unsure of, some are also shy to speak to us as they bury their heads on the thought of their kids are having sex. let us remember that sexual debut is slowly going down, such that you find kids at the age of 9, 10 have started engaging in sex.

The community at large is not conducive for the adolescents and young people; we have seen how religious leaders like pastors condemn and judge their own “flock”, Religious leaders should start helping otherwise the flock will continue to reduce. we should also stop discriminating young mothers, they deserve love and hope – they need support and continuous access of social, health and economic support.

We are in lockdown again. We have seen parents develop opposition to information around contraceptives, while their children are using some of them like condoms to prevent STIs, HIV and pregnancy.

We need to empower parents through community structures and institutions like the sub-county based unit on health that have youth experts who are able to speak on issues around sexual reproductive health and rights issues like access to contraceptives, access to information on sex amongst other issues to avert the increase of some of these issues like adolescent and teen pregnancies, defilement among many others.

Alvin Mwangi is a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) advocate in Nairobi Twitter: @alvinmwangi254

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