I recall growing up when ZNBC was the only channel and we would be required to bath and drink our 4 pm tea just in time for the Littles to start. We watched movies on video cassettes and we were shielded from any explicit material. Indeed those were the good ol’ days. Those were the days when we were just innocent souls. Fast-forward to 2012 and everywhere you go it appears that innocence is being lost at much younger ages.
I still recall a time when my siblings and I would watch movies and a scene of a sexual nature would come on. Immediately, we were told that don’t watch bad manners and the tape would soon be stopped and we would put on a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. At least he did not make films with bad manners in them. So growing up whenever a man and woman kissed it was considered bad manners, when a man and a woman were in bed together it was considered bad manners. To hear a friend use the word ‘sex’ at primary school was as if the person had committed the utmost sin and it was always a source of blackmail. “If you do not give me your lunch, I will tell teacher what you said,” soon the poor boy was handing over his lunch. It is funny now as I think back to those days. There was this mystic about it that we knew, even though our parents never called sex as sex but rather bad manners and it was what only adults were permitted to do.
Nowadays, however, forget about calling sex, bad manners that is so old fashioned. It is out there for everyone to see. Almost everything has become so sexualised these days, from the adverts to the songs, the cartoons to the movies. Everyone is bombarded with all the sexual content that there is no need to call sex, bad manners anymore it is there in bold SEX. A company selling cooking oil will put a woman in a bikini, some songs are extremely explicit that you quickly change the station when your grandmother steps into the room and cartoons these days are slowly following suit.
My concern is that how appropriate is it to continue to refer to sex as bad manners. Parents are still very uncomfortable to talk to their children about sex. I for one do not recall a time when I had the conversation with my parents. Whatever education I had, it had to be learnt from elsewhere. The science classes on reproduction, friends, older relatives or magazines were my teachers. I think my parents thought that I would figure it out and pretty much I did figure it out. I will admit, however, that I did receive some pretty wrong information too.
With HIV/AIDS still in our midst, teenage pregnancy and the increase of defilement cases, it is not the time to continue to gloss around the issue. Pretending that children are still innocent and are only preoccupied with Ben 10, Hanna Montana and Justin Bieber is a grave misconception. The things that kids know these days would shock most. It should not come as a wonder; there is so much access to information nowadays. Perhaps their greatest source of information and arguably one which is likely to cause the greatest damage is the internet on their mobiles phones. With just a click of a button it is easy to access any site under the sun; porn is not far from their finger tips. Parents and guardians would not know a thing after all the phones stay in their bags and pockets.
The amount of peer pressure that kids face these days is also not helping matters. Not only is peer pressure coming from their friends but there is also added pressure to be like the stars that they see on the television screens. It is so easy to succumb in order to feel they belong in the clique. There is also an amount of experimentation and a sense of rebellion that would definitely come at this stage. Once again parents would consider this a passing phase.
Therefore, it is time that parents should find time to talk to their children on sexual issues. Assuming that the science teacher or their best friends will take care of it is not the best option. Whether we choose to accept it or not if we do not give them the information, they will find it somewhere else and unfortunately it may not be the right information. The question I think parents should be grappling with is not whether to have the discussion but when is the right time to have it? My response would be before Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Boondocks start to give them advice.