HFLE abstinence-only policy not working says GRPA Exec

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Executive Director of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) Patricia Bisnauth, in an exclusive interview with the News Room today (Tuesday, February 7, 2017) called for a comprehensive and relevant sex education curriculum in schools.

She expressed the view that much more needs to be done to protect the youths in a highly sexualized society as Guyana. Her comments follow the release of videos showing school-aged boys and girls engaged in sexual acts in their school uniforms and in some cases on school premises.

Mrs. Bisnauth said many of the parents are ill-equipped to provide the necessary guidance to their children, owing to the fact that many of them may also be facing issues relating to sex and sexuality.

There is reluctance, she said, on the part of parents to engaging in the “sex talk” with their children, while pointing to the fact that in many homes parents are unmindful of the children when it comes to their sexual behaviour in the children’s presence.

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.

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

She believes that the peer education and counseling programme would be a more effective approach to address some of the issues that continue to plague the school system, particularly inappropriate sexual conduct.

Mrs. Bisnauth suggested that the parents be supported by the school and the line ministries which can all provide guidance and counseling.

Additionally, she made a stern call for the Ministry of Education to look at its Sex Education policy and with the input of all stakeholders craft a modern policy that encapsulates all aspects of sex and sexuality.

She said the system in its current form is failing something that cannot be afforded given the high rate of teenage pregnancy and prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases among young people. Low self-esteem, poor performance in school, sexual abuse and other factors could influence this sort of behaviour among teens.

Since the release of the video the Ministry of Social Protection has called on persons to stop its circulation since it is criminal to share explicit content involving children. It has advised that the children in these videos would be counseled.

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