Tips for great parent-child talk on sexual health matters
By Dambalash Ermiyas Males Tasew
Parent-child conversation matter across board, including on sexuality education. Open and honest conversations can help strengthen parent-child bond, shape childrens development and how they make decisions and build relationships later in life.
Early sexual debut and teenage pregnancy
One of the major concerns in Nairobi County is early sexual debut among young people with factors such as peer pressure, lack of information, and inadequate guidance contribute to this trend with conversations between parents and children can play a vital role in addressing these issues.
Parents need to initiate discussions about healthy relationships, consent, contraception, and the consequences of early sexual activity by providing accurate information and clarifying misconceptions. Parents can empower their children to make responsible choices.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS
Sarah is a 19-year-old girl living in a rural area of Kenya. Due to the lack of comprehensive sexual education in her community, Sarah was unaware of the risks associated with unprotected sex and the importance of regular HIV and STI testing. As a result, she engaged in unprotected sexual activity with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, Sarah contracted HIV from her partner, as well as a sexually transmitted infection.
The impact of this harm on Sarah’s life was devastating. She experienced significant physical health issues, including recurring STI symptoms and a deteriorating immune system due to HIV. Sarah’s mental health was also affected as she struggled with the fear of stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS in her community. Moreover, her limited access to healthcare and support services made it difficult for her to receive appropriate treatment and manage her conditions effectively.
Gender-Based Violence and sexual abuse
James, a 16-year-old boy, was a victim of gender-based violence and sexual abuse. He experienced repeated physical and emotional abuse from his stepfather, who used his position of authority to exert power and control over James. Despite suffering in silence, James was afraid to report the abuse due to fear, shame, and societal norms that discourage boys from speaking out.
The impact of this harm on James was profound. He developed deep emotional scars, experiencing feelings of worthlessness, self-blame, and a distorted sense of masculinity. James’ educational performance suffered as he found it difficult to concentrate in school, impacting his future opportunities. The absence of a safe and non-judgmental environment at home prevented him from seeking help and support, leaving him trapped in an abusive situation.
Access to sexual and reproductive health services
Grace, a 17-year-old girl, belonged to a conservative community in Kenya where discussions about sexual and reproductive health were considered taboo. Without proper guidance and information, Grace lacked knowledge about available sexual and reproductive health services. She faced challenges in accessing youth-friendly clinics and counseling centers due to fear of judgment and discrimination.
The impact of limited access to sexual and reproductive health services had a detrimental effect on Grace’s well-being. She experienced unintended pregnancies and struggled with the physical and emotional consequences of unsafe abortions. Grace’s lack of knowledge about contraceptives and family planning options limited her ability to make informed choices about her reproductive health. Moreover, the absence of an open dialogue at home hindered her from seeking guidance and support from her parents.
These illustrate the real-life experiences faced by young people, By addressing these harms through education, open communication, and improved access to healthcare, we can strive to create a safer and healthier environment for young people and adolescents in Our communities.
Young people and adolescents face challenges in relation to their sexual health. Parent-child conversations about relationships and aspects of their sexuality play a crucial role in addressing these issues effectively with providing accurate information, fostering a supportive environment, and encouraging open dialogue. Parents can equip their children with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions about their bodies and relationships. It is through these conversations that parents can empower their children, promote their overall well-being, and contribute to building a healthier society for all.
The writer Ermiyas Males is a Youth Advocate in the field of sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.