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Wed Oct 01 12:35:42 SAST 2014

Parents, not the internet, must teach children about sex

The Times Editorial | 28 November, 2012 00:06

The Times Editorial: One of the best ways to gauge how the world has changed from one generation to another is to examine our attitudes to sex.

How our children relate to sex and what they deem to be acceptable sexual behaviour are perhaps an even more pertinent way to assess just how quickly societies shift.

Being shocked by statistics regarding South Africa's young people is no new thing. But it is disheartening to be repeatedly faced with new studies that underscore the prevalence of behaviour that borders on the dangerous.

And this is not about a Mother Grundy stance on young people's sexuality but rather their cavalier attitude to the risks they take with their bodies. It is a reality that HIV/Aids exists and that South Africa has one of the highest incidences of HIV infection in the world.

But, as results from the International Planned Parenthood Federation showed yesterday, only 34% of South Africa's youth said they used condoms. Another 37% said they used condoms only "sometimes".

Other startling findings include that 11% of the young people interviewed said they lost their virginity before they were 14, and 20% had sex between the ages of 14 and 16. These figures are depressing, and so, too, is the statement that only 4% of young people learned about sex from their parents. Generally, they gathered information from friends, the internet and television.

And so it makes perfect sense that education and health authorities are thinking about getting condoms into our schools and that there is huge concern about teen pregnancies.

But the early exposure to sex emphasises a much broader dilemma - the role of parents in children's lives and the absence of an overarching morality within our society.

Many of life's lessons should be taught in the home. How much has our society shifted that children can no longer find a comfortable space at home, where they should feel safe?

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Wed Oct 01 12:35:42 SAST 2014 ::