FRIDAY, FEB. 17: Recently released statistics on the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections are cause for alarm.

With an increasingly larger number of STIs in persons 35 years and younger, we need to act quickly to educate and protect our youth.

It is important for parents to teach their children the things they need to know about their bodies; how it functions, how it develops, and how to identify when something is just not right.

Children should also be able to identify the various parts of their body by their correct anatomical name.

This includes naming of the private parts — without the nicknames and the giggles. The penis is not ‘George’, the vagina is not ‘Molly’ and the monthly menstrual cycle is not ‘the curse’. 

When parents teach their children to devalue their body with such names, due perhaps to embarrassment, children are more likely to hold their bodies in lesser regard than they ought to because they themselves will develop a sense of discomfort.  Parents must teach their children how to respect their bodies so that they will, in turn, know immediately when their bodies are being disrespected or violated by others. 

Adolescents and teens have a higher than normal interest in sex than my peers when we were of that age. However, those of my generation don’t recall having open and frank discussions with our parents about what appeared to be a taboo subject.

Our parents seemed to wrestle with the idea that sex had to be discussed but by any other way than verbally.

Sexual interests

Most of us ladies recall the gift of the book, ‘On Becoming a Woman’ that was presented to us in our adolescent lives that was to be the authority on all we needed to know about sex and our bodies.

Young people today speak openly about sex and their sexual interests and as I’ve often heard, the language and references are somewhat gutter and disrespectful. Sadly, I have seen with my very own eyes the conduct of teens in a “teen dance.”  I was appalled and sickened to be honest to learn from some of the youth and chaperones in attendance that what I witnessed was considered the norm at all teen dances around the island.

In short, I witnessed young people engaging in sexual behaviour — with their clothes on! They were literally moving about the room from partner to partner in a manner that a bee moves from flower to flower to repeat their sexual acts!

“Don’t these young people dance?” I asked. The response was clear. “No”. My complaints and urging to turn the lights up and shut the “dance” down fell on deaf ears. How dare I disrupt an event full of teens who paid to enter. As a chaperone myself, I left and vowed never to attend another one again.

A relative shared that when raising her son as a single mother she determined to have open and frank discussions with him about sex. She was sure to also talk to him about unwelcome touches to his body. This conversation kept comfortable lines of communication open between her and her son. As an educator, she also felt that too many parents are afraid to get into these or any kinds of conversations with their children for fear of conflict with their children. If these conversations are not had, then to whom or to what will the young people turn for information?

On Monday, February 20, the guest on my radio show will be Ms Gaynell Hayward, newly appointed Chief Nursing Officer. She will address the facts of sex and sexuality and share a wealth of information that parents and youth need to know.

Shawnette Somner is the host of Generations, which airs on DeFontes’ Broadcasting Company’s 1450AM Gold, 7.30-9pm every Monday. E-mail generations4youth@yahoo.com. Call in live during the show on 295-1450.