Gov’t exploring long-term solutions for early sexual activities among youths

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Following the circulation of a number of inappropriate videos with students from various schools, the Government has formed a task force to provide support to the students involved and their parents. However, a more long-term solution is being considered, to address the issue.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DMO), Dr. Karen Boyle

In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DMO) at Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Boyle said after learning of the videos which were circulated on social media, the Ministries of Education and Social Protection were immediately engaged.

Dr. Boyle explained that the ministries “are going to have to look at implementing a programme that deals with supplemental parenting skills. There is no manual that teaches you to be a parent before you become a parent; you learn along the way, your parents may give you a hint or sometimes you learn by the mistakes but this programme will open the door to for parenting skills.”

One of the areas that will be looked at is to ensure that fathers actively participate in parenthood from the pregnancy stage.

In the interim, the Ministry of Public Health will strengthen its adolescent health programme to tackle teenage pregnancy Dr. Boyle noted.

“Through our adolescent health programme we’re trying to ensure that there are clinics now where adolescents who have made that decision already or are sexually active to go and have access to materials for their protection and get the information that they can understand, without being judged,” she related.

She is also urging families, churches and other organisations that promote abstinence to recognise that everyone has a choice and therefore; if adolescents choose to be sexually active then they must be provided with the correct information to make those choices.  As such, they must be taught the consequences attached to being sexually active.

On Tuesday (February 07, 2017), News Room spoke with the Executive Director of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) Patricia Bisnauth, who also highlighted that the promotion of abstinence is not working anymore.

Executive Director of the GRPA, Patricia Bisnauth

The Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum which teaches an abstinence-only approach to sex is proving to be irrelevant, she said. As such, she called for a change in the attitude of teachers, many of whom have taken the “standing on higher moral ground” when it comes to dealing with the children in the school system.

The GRPA Executive emphasized that parents must be informed of what she described as age-appropriate “sex talks” needed to develop a level of comfort between them and their children. She also believes that the peer education and counseling programme be a more effective approach to address some of the issues that continue to plague the school system, particularly inappropriate sexual conduct.

Meanwhile, Director of the Child Protection Agency, Ann Greene said that her department will be beefing up its teen empowerment program in all the regions to encourage youths to abstain or protect themselves.

“We’re working the teen empowerment programme to prevent teens from getting pregnant, we want them to concentrate more on their studies to make wise decisions to put that whole sexual activity off; but even if you reach this stage where you don’t want to delay it we want you to protect yourself from STDs and even early pregnancy,” Green explained.

This effort will also be a collaborative one with Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) in every school along with Welfare Officers to better address this issue, Greene pointed out.

Serious concerns have been raised about the conduct of young students from several well-known schools appearing in videos, featuring explicit sexual content being shared on social media.

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