Tue, 07/12/2016 - 12:00am
Law alone will not prevent activity
A recent announcement from Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, Executive Director of the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA), is cause for concern. The notion that some teenagers engage in sexual activities at school is distressing, but it is a reality that cannot be ignored. What must be done is to find a solution that effectively reduces such incidences while addressing the roots of the problem.
It is an issue that has occurred for years, but Bynoe-Sutherland noted that more schools are now reaching out for help after catching students in compromising positions. She also called for more volunteers with the BFPA, and repeated a call to change existing legislation so children between 16 and 17 can access relevant family planning services and materials without parental consent.
Some adults fear access to such facilities would encourage children under 18 to engage in sexual activity and are against that kind of flexibility. It is unfortunate however that we are at the stage where it is proposed the law be reformed in an endeavour to protect our children from their own activity. Yet we are not so sure that a change in legislation will ensure safe, healthy sexual practices, or deter children from doing so on school property.
Perhaps further analysis would answer a pertinent question: Why are children making such bold choices? Why so publicly on school compounds? Some attribute it to the fact that there is no planned sex education programmes in schools and there is a greater freedom there than at home. Others note that a daily exposure to a free-with-information Digital Age puts the most tender of minds into contact with things well beyond their years, such as suggestive music videos and raunchy lyrics.
While these factors might be contributory, the sad state of affairs can be attributed to that sense of decency on which our forefathers placed such emphasis, but which today has been allowed to slip away from us. Parents more than anyone else must be the solution to the problem, especially if they do not wish to have a law intervening against their wishes; they themselves must be prepared to shoulder much of the responsibility to instil in the minds of their children a correct and moral approach to life. We acknowledge it is very different to years gone by, when the tripartite system of church, school and community reared a child in a rigidly controlled environment. These days our children have many freedoms – even gifted to them through their parents – but are inadequately supervised and directed. Some adults don’t even attempt to talk to their children about sexual matters out of embarrassment, but are doing their charges a grave disservice, especially since they as parents are the first line of defence against unwanted behaviour of any kind.
Law is useless by itself. We in society must also endeavour to avoid the problems which in the first place made the law necessary. These pitfalls of youth can be avoided if parents pull their weight in this most sensitive area.