Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's Talk About Teenage Sex

For any parent, the idea of their teenage kids having sex is simply revolting. But if a recent report in the Sunday Nation is anything to go by, the problem is getting bigger with time and parents and the society as a whole have to confront this uncomfortable thought head on. Kids are having sex from as young as 13 years of age. The morning after pill (Emergency contraception) is the fastest moving over the counter drug in pharmacies especially over the weekends and on Mondays. That means they’re having unprotected sex. And they don’t need prescriptions to get these drugs. There’s the even more chilling allegation that there are fake pills in the market. That would in turn give rise to illegal backstreet abortions.

So teenagers have no business having sex but they’re having it anyway and then resorting to harmful and dangerous methods to prevent pregnancy. Why they’re starting to have sex so early is material for a whole different post. What is clear is that the abstinence before marriage gospel is mostly ineffective. It has been ineffective all these years for teenagers and older people alike. Obviously the gravest danger of unprotected sex is HIV. But it seems the kids are not looking at it that way.

There’s a bold concept among some parents out there. They know their youngsters are hormonal and are sexually active but other than adopting a hard stance which does not seem to work at all, they have embraced their daughters’ sexuality and are guiding them through birth control and condom use. Those who trust that their daughters are in a monogamous relationship have put them on the pill although condoms are most encouraged. Are the comfortable with that? No. Are they accepting the reality? Yes. The argument here is that they’d rather their kids had safe sex with their blessings and advice than unsafe sex under dangerous misinformed notions from fellow teenagers.

Judy (Not her real name) is such one parent. She had her first daughter at the tender age of 16 and she says she’d comfortably put her daughter through birth control at the same age. Not as permission to go out and have sex but as a safety measure so that the girl does not go through what she went through. She says that as a parent, she’ll feel more at ease knowing that her child is practicing safe sex under her guidance.

As another parent puts it, ‘I would not be comfortable with it because sex is not a decision that should be taken lightly. For the most part (and there are exceptions to everything), teenage boys and girls are impulsive and easily persuaded. There are too many young people getting pregnant and STD's. If teens were more responsible, there wouldn't be such a high rate of pregnancy and STD. So, I would not be comfortable with my teenage daughter having sex’.

31 Comments:

KenyaLuv said...

That's a lie. Abstinence is not ineffective, it was a success in Uganda and it has worked for me and I'm in my 20's. Don't buy every lie the West feeds us.

Shiko-Msa said...

Congrats Kenyaluv. That's the way to go and I hope many youngsters can do the same. Abstinence is not totally ineffective of course there are cases like yours.

But the Sunday Nation did their survey here. And when they say emergency contraceptives are the most sought after over the counter drugs in pharmacies throughout Nairobi during weekends and Monday mornings then that sounds rather scary.

I hope the situation on the ground is not that grim.

Anonymous said...

I read that report in the nation too. it seems the problem is serious. this is something that is happening here in kenya not in the West. There is a surge in casual and unprotected sex among young people in Kenya very few people wait to get married to have sex. Let usnot burry our heads in the sand about this problem. parents and teachers should talk more closely to their children. Everyone has their own way of dealing with family matters but i dont agree they should allow them to have sex or guide them through it. how?

El said...

What about mums who hook up their young daugters with guys so the parents can make money out of that? introducing your own daughter to prostitution. there are such cases.

Half n Half said...

Teenagers are having sex! that's the bottom line, and I applaud parents who get their heads out of the sand and deal with the situation as is not as they would like it to be.. If you don't want you teenage child to have sex then do something about it, the problem with parents is that we leave our children to be raised by TV and then start complaining when they learn from the TV. iiiiisssshhhh

Shiko-Msa said...

Anon the report was quite uncomfortable. Somehow we know these thing happen but when they're broken down like that it hits home. the idea of parents providing birth control pills to kids is the one that sounds rather westernish so I don't know how well it can operate here. But it's not a question of allowing youngsters to have sex. they wont like ask for permission they'll just go ahead and do it.

El such parents are in a different league all together. I cant even imagine what drives them to do that. Poverty?

Peter Njenga said...

Ideally, we can and should tell our younger bros and sisters to be good boys and girls and wait till marriage...
The sad reality is that they are doing it, perhaps even more than adults are. An article in last week's Pulse had such a report.
Forget preventing them for a moment, we are looking at curative measures here, since it's already happening.
A month hasn't kwishad since I watched a (for or against) sex before marriage debate on Tahidi High.
The situation is a critical one, if we have to save this future generation.

Shiko-Msa said...

Nusu Mbili thanks. the TV issue is quite another problem. Now what shall we do about tellys?

But then other than tellys there's sex everywhere these days. Magazines, newspapers, movies, music videos, even the so called family magazines have a few shocker pages. True love always dedicates a few pages to the subject. This month the whole magazine is about sex. Cosmopolitan sometimes seals a whole section or gives a little booklet along with their magazine. aaai there’s just too much of it all over. And then there’re other sleezy magazines from TZ I used to see on the streets and to think of it I don’t see them any more. I hope someone banned them. It’s like we’re paying back for years of treating it as taboo

Shiko-Msa said...

Njenga Karibu. More than adults Ouch! but possible. I read the pulse article. the parties and alcohol and sex. and parents who give their kids upto 5,000/- allowance?

Haki stuff has changed! during our days and in some families even today ati you tell your mum you're going where? And she lets you go? No. You did not even tell her in the first place and you did not go either. Not that there were parties to speak of.

Another issue is that these days people are getting married much later, some well past the age of 30 while some are not getting married at all. When the abstinence before marriage was very successful girls were getting married at 18 and sometimes younger.

I wonder what the youngsters of Tahidi High had to say?

Maua said...

It's not just a problem in Kenya, UK is the most hit in Europe. The govt has tried, but failed to tackle the problem, and they are now thinking of compulsory sex education in schools, as most parents withdraw their children from the classes.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1577038/Ministers-weigh-compulsory-teen-sex-education.html

We'll just wait and see the effects, and meanwhile, chip in in educating our children.

The other day my 11 yr old son asked me 'how do you know a girl is in love with you?'. I take this as a hint that I have to do something coz he's just 2 weeks old in secondary school, and that is worrying.

Kirima said...

Tough topic but no easy answers for this one. This things of teens having sex is all over and it cannot be easilly wished away so people (parents) have to deal with it. I know it terrifies me as well when I become a parent!
I think the ball is in the parents court to tackle it individually with their kids, don't expect the society or teachers to look after your kids.
Someone said something about copying the West or TV I think that is not the issue. I don't like it when people say that Africa's problems are as a result of apeing the west as though we don't have conscience (the ability to tell right from wrong) I think we know what is right but decide to ignore our conscience. You cannot blame others for your own decisions and we are not so weak minded to follow blindly what is on TV.

Shiko-Msa said...

Maua I wish I could help you on how to deal with that question. Please keep for me the notes I’ll come for them when my time comes to answer questions. But I think it’s a good sign that the young lad came to you ama?

Thanks for the link. Britain still has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Western Europe despite spending £150 million since 1999 to cut numbers?? That’s bad statistics after spending so much money. But the writer correctly states that there is no magic bullet for solving the problem.

What I don’t believe is that life ends for a teenager who gives birth. It’s possible that these kids can give birth and then go back to school. I know a few people who had babies early in life, went back to school and made something of their lives. It’s certainly not the same as if they didn’t have babies but still it’s better than resigning to life at 17.

Kirima the topic is a sticky one. Parents have a tough calling shaping people who do not necessarily want to be shaped. I hear you about the TV issue and aping the West. But when they’re young they’re very impressionable and can easily be influenced by what they see.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing we can do. We will slowly slip into the abyss of debauchery until Hiv finishes us. Then we are also destroying our world with wars and I dont know what. I am not religious but I see the end of the world coming. Even in politics Martha Karua was calling Kibaki God last year now Kibaki is being accused of breaking MoU. Oh my - tusiblame watoto wetu - they are just doing what we adults are doing.

Anonymous said...

I think teen sex is ok as long as your on your own and that as a couple you have decided together but just a hint talk about it to find an answer

Maua said...

Anon 9:55, what do you mean by teen sex is ok? What do they know? Someone said, if only life began at 80 and then reversed to 0. If only we could go back in time, I'm sure all of us could make amends.

It's now our duty to hammer this to the teens, to make them realise that we were teenagers once, and it is wrong to have sex before marriage.

Shiko-Msa said...

Anon I hear you. I don't know how you bring in Martha Karua and Kibaki to the teenage sex mix but I get your point all the same. As for the end of the world, look out for a post here some time soon.

Maua I hope they'll listen when it's hammered into them. Some have listened. See like Kenyaluv above.

LIFE,MARRIAGE AND KIDS said...

hi,every itneresting post.couldnt help but give a piece of my mind.as a mother of two girls this is my fear,that my daugthers will be sexually active at a young age. young boys and girls have no bussiness getting sexually active.i was a virgin up until i got marriade at age 28.yes,i was.and i would encourage my daughters to stay virgins as long as they can.it is quite disturbing that a lot of girls as young as 13 that are active already.we the parents need to do something about this..we have to make stand.i was even sadenned by palin's daughter.Palin a mother who is for abstinence apparently didnt preach enough to her daughter.

thanks

Peter Njenga said...

Coincidentally, I was blogging today about Sex in Advertising and the argument is that sexual thoughts already reside in people's minds. That is why advertisers use sexual pics, words and innuendo anyway.
Yes, we are quite salacious as a people. But the whole idea of sex when it comes to very young kids is largely an amalgamation of several influences among them media, radio, TV, internet and role models (read adults and parents) who have failed.
Read my thoughts on sex in advertisements here: http://peternjenga.blogspot.com/2008/09/creative-and-funny-ads-are-there-any.html

P.S: Shiko, The Tahidi High debate was very blunt. Imagine the School Director (Mr Tembo) asking the Principal, Ms Morgan if she has ever used a condom? And what with Joni unleashing a cell phone and saying that he has just been surfing major porn. I hope you didn't miss that episode.

Shiko-Msa said...

Life, Marriage and Kids thanks for your visit and comment. The Palin daughter's case is quite uncomfortable especially the timing!

Sometimes the youngsters just don't listen to the preaching. I guess the secret is to start preaching to them really early in life. Don't wait until they're in puberty. The problem with modern kids is they've become so daring and they can even talk back at you if they think you're pissing them off.

28! That was good. I pray that your girls turn out fine.

Peter our ads are hilarious! Why would Disney do that? It's late but I'll go through the other links Monday.

Unfortunately I missed not just that particular episode of Tahidi High but most of them. I only ever catch a few glimpses here and there coz I've never taken a serious interest. But I know the cast at least.

BP ONE said...

Great Post, Shiko. It’s really hurting to note that the future leaders of this nation are morally rotten at a tender age and what hurts me most is that the big losers In this teenage sex saga are the future mothers. Funny enough this crisis of teenage sex is not confined to our society but a global catastrophe . A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicated “One in four teenage girls in the United States has a sexually-transmitted disease…. the study also found higher prevalence of STDs among black girls” see link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7290088.stm
I believe it is the high time parents should realize what our teenagers are yearning for is spiritual guidance, a concrete religious teaching and not lessons on safe sex. Our teenage should be informed that Chastity and Chastity alone is the only way to keep them safe from STDS and unwanted pregnancy. They should be told that the only safe sex they can have is after marriage and not before that. They should know that with sex comes commitments which they can’t handle at their age.
If telling that to our kid(s) is difficult then I suggest parents should go shopping for chastity belts that is the second best safe idea so far,I believe they are available online.
This business of teenagers having sex is just sexual appetite gone crazy, I ask could it be due to the decline of FGM (the cut)? After all the female cut was traditionally considered as a checker to sexual desire.

Kirima said...

@BP one, I agree with you on the need for spiritual guidance and chastity (not the belt though!) but the last statement on FGM I beg to totally disagree its well known that after the cut most of the girls assume that they are now adults and take it as a licence to engage in sex leading to many of the initiates to drop from school and early marriage, You cannot curb desire with a cut.

UrXlnc said...

fgm is a barbaric practice and should not be even debatable. the best form of control is a voluntary or willful effort to overcome a temptation. there are several methodology ranging from avoidance of stimulus to in depth understanding of the long term impact vs momentary "pleasure" of indulgence. the idea is for every two ads showing promiscuity there should be 100s of ads and documentary showing disasters and effects of careless/inappropriate sexual conduct. (unplanned parenthood, sexually transmitted infections, dropped dreams and aspirations, etc). I usually maintain that an informed population is far much more useful, responsive and "cheaper" to sustain than a population that is controlled through straight jacket and carrot and stick methodology

Shiko-Msa said...

BP wherever have you been? Long time. And look what you came with Lol. Chastity belts? I thought they’re long gone and forgotten? Although after reading your comment I googled them and have found out that they’re still very much around and they’re making a comeback in parts of Indonesia where massage parlors are asking their workers to wear them to protect themselves from randy clients’ sexual advances. Other than that they’re used as toys by sado-masochists. Putting our modern day young women through that I don’t think is the right way to go though. Ouch.

Thanks for the link. One in four teenage girls in the United States has a sexually-transmitted disease? That’s a whole 25%! I think as much as the situation is bad here, we’re not that badly off.

BP the cut will not work either because the fact remains the teenagers are still hormonal. And as Kirima says, they’ll take it as a ticket to go out and have sex. And besides, it will deny them the joys of sex even when the right time comes and they’re married. And that will open a whole different can of worms. Not to mention the negative effects on their health.

Shiko-Msa said...

Urxlnc the ads and documentaries would work wonders I think. When I was in school we used to have such films every once in a while. The school also used to invite speakers and university girls to talk to us about career choices and sexuality. At one time they brought Joe Muriuki. I don't know whether such things still happen now or schools are too busy chasing KCSE grades?

there's one I particularly remember it was called 'So Sweet a Bite' it was about HIV although it also touched on other sexual related dangers. It was so so moving everyone left the hall dead quiet. I'm sure it made an impact in all the schools it was taken to.

greamhouze said...

My teenage nephew whom I live with has more sex than I do. He however doesnt know I know about it. I just dont know how to tell him to lay off till the right time. I find myself asking if he ever uses condoms and if he knows HIV is real. I dont take women home because I want to be a good example to him. If I take a chic home, I'll have no moral authority to tell him not bring his around. He however does it when am not around.

Shiko-Msa said...

ai Greamhouze pole. that's a tough one. If this was not such a serious matter I'd have asked you a few funny questions but I’ll pass.

I was shocked when Njenga said some teenagers have more sex than adults kumbe it happens. Some of these kids have a very dangerous and misinformed attitude towards HIV. It's very common to hear them say that it's become like just common cold of late and stuff like that.

I hope your nephew is using protection and if not then I hope he's having sex with one girl. Not that it's any consolation coz HIV is a chain. He may have sex with one girl who is also having sex with one other guy and so on and so forth. Talk to the young man. I understand though it can be difficult to talk to him especially if he came into your life when he was already a big boy.

Nubian Queen said...

What!!! a morning afre pill without a prescription are you kidding me??!! wow times have really changed in our dear country.

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