The Jamaican Minister of Health Rudyard Spencer stated in his 2011 safer sex week address that “Our young people must be targeted aggressively as they are becoming sexually active at a younger age and are having multiple partners. Since 1982, AIDS cases reported among girls in the 10-19 age groups have increased. Parents and guardians must play a more active role in supervising their children and instilling good morals and values that will encourage them to abstain from sex. The use of commu (nication technologies must also be pursued to distribute messages about abstinence and the methods of safe sex”. The Jamaican UNGASS country report of 2010 supports the minister’s claim that the Jamaican youth are becoming more sexually active at an earlier age as it states that Men: 56.6% Women: 15.9% of young women and men aged 15–24 who have had sexual intercourse before the age of 15.
For years gone by I have always been a strong advocate for the inclusion of parental discussions with youth on issues of sexually reproductive health and rights, I mean what better way to start than the home. I however disagree with the minister’s proposed strategy which is to promote the abstention from sex to already sexually active youth. How you can advocate for a more AGGRESIVE approach while one of your solutions is to have talk about abstinence with sexually active youth who are strongly influenced by their peers and the media.
The present youth populace is always busy on their Blackberries, iPhones and ipads they don’t need their parents telling them to wait and or to stop. While such would and should be the perfect method we are not living in a utopian society, the reality is youth are having sex and are having sex at a younger age than their older siblings, parents and grandparents. the privacy and magnetism of these devices creates an environment where the child is constantly exposed to sexual contents.
So what to do to address the issue? Should we turn a blind eye to the depressing disturbing reality and continue to preach abstinence or should we explore innovative youth friendly measures to curb the problem? My recommendation to the minister and his staff who seems to be focusing on a more active role among parents is to provide nation-wide seminars educating parents on how to properly communicate the topic of safer sex to their already sexual active child; These new strategies should include the use to new techonlogies that are popular among youth. To promote the creation and fostering of parent/child relationships so as to allow parents the opportunity to know what’s going on in their child’s life and have more leverage in influencing specific behaviours not only as a parent but also as friend.