For a young person, there are quite a number of fears and worries that will cross one’s path as they grow older. In the very beginning, when one is quiet young, most of what one needs to know is fed to them at home and at school. Along the way, they get exposed to so many other sources of information, inspiration and inclination. Some of these sources are far from commendable but cannot be fought nonetheless. And so learning is done outside the home and classroom
Very many young people grow up unaware about their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) because of a number of reasons. Some have far from generous parents who will not share this vital information while others are unlucky to study in schools where sharing of such information is frowned upon and even considered taboo. A number of societies do not make things easier for these young people as they have plenty of misconceptions and wrongly spread messages about the SRHR.
Generally speaking, the African society is one that does not exactly condone public dissemination of information regarding SRHR. For this reason alone, a good number of youths struggle to come to terms with their roles, duties, expectations, shortcomings, worries, fears, abilities and strengths as either male or female. So we eventually end up with a crop of young people who are oblivious to their sexualities. The danger here is that young people will eventually learn things somehow. And so if they are not given direction and guidance, they will probably learn from the wrong sources and this will only aggravate the situation.
With the advent of technology, there is a lot of information about SRHR that is spread around on the internet. However, a good chunk of this information is actually based on hearsay and is not well founded or properly researched. This means that the young people consume this false information and end up straying – without even knowing it. So while the elders are busy shunning their roles in teaching the young people about SRHRs, the young people are gladly learning wrong attitudes and behaviours from willing teachers on the internet
The onus is therefore on everyone to take a moment and think about what role they are playing to help young people understand their position when it comes to SRHR. Each person has their own SRHR and they need to be enlightened on what specific details are involved. Parents should not leave the work to the teachers and teachers should not return the favour by leaving the work to parents. In the same breath, both parents and teachers should not sit back and wait for the society to educate and enlighten their children because the only way this can end is badly.
Instead, there should be concerted effort on the part of all parties so that at the end of the day the young people are properly and appropriately inducted into the system of appreciating and properly practicing SRHR.