Growing up in a conservative Christian home as a minister’s kid, there were certain things we never talked about and number one on the list was sex. When I had my first period, my mom went like, ‘now if a man touches you, you will get pregnant,” and that was it for Sex Education 101. At school, some of my friends told me that if you use the same toilet boys used, you could get pregnant because they leave sperm on the toilet seat and they can swim and get into you. If you asked me what went on during sex, I would have probably told you that adults rub their bodies together on the bed, under the blanket and that was all. Of course, I knew there was more to it but once you’re naïve, you are naïve until… well, until you stop being naïve.
Eventually, I knew all about sex from Mills and Boon, TV, friends, school and other educative media but to be honest, I wished my parents had sat me down and told me all about it. Yeah, well, thinking of it now, that could have scarred me but seriously, it would have helped a great deal. I am sure my story’s not just peculiar to me alone but to a lot of youth from my generation. I met some friends though, who told me their parents gave them graphic details but that is just a small fraction of the population. In countries like the United States, giving your child ‘the talk’ is a normal thing every parent has to go through. I know some don’t but most of them do and in my opinion, that is the best way to prepare a child for the world of sex he or she is going to have to face. In Nigeria, we have a big problem facing us and there is this hypocritical air that we float in that we have termed ‘African culture or tradition’ that is destroying us. How many times have I heard in Africa, we don’t do this or that. It’s for the white man. Our religious institutions would rather talk about 100 ways to kill the devil than properly teach teens about sex.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, there are now condoms offered to twelve year olds in Switzerland and a school in Massachusetts in the States was also considering sharing free condoms to their twelve year olds and i think it is now available so you can order it and it would be delivered to your home (not in Naija). Now, I have two thoughts on this issue. Like most people, when I first got wind of this information, I was worried and a lot of bad thoughts as to how this could go wrong for the future generation bugged my mind. First, what does a twelve year old know about sex? I mean, in this child’s mind, is he/she saying, ‘I’m making love to this person because I am matured enough to be in charge of my emotions, my mind, my spiritual and physical expressions at the moment’? or is he/she just ‘doing’ as the world has told him/her that that is what sex is all about—just doing. Meaning, it’s all about the pleasure. And I ask again: for twelve year olds, is sexual pleasure made complete in their underdeveloped bodies or does the word spring up because they’re told they have to enjoy it?
Secondly, with the increasing number of pedophiles and sick, perverted adults in our society, is it wise to get a child sexually active at this age, making it easy for these beasts to prey on them. Of course, child abuse has been an issue as old as time. I remember being in a salon somewhere and it amazed me how every girl there (about eight of us) had been abused during childhood. All the same, do we make it a free-for-all for pedophiles that live and breathe amongst us?
After considering the above (not the photo), I calmed down and revisited the the condom issue and looked at it conversely and I began to see, though vaguely, from that point of view and these were my deductions. Sex is everywhere. It’s on TV, internet, radio, phones, newspapers, posters, billboards, cinema… everywhere! I’m certain even my eleven month old has been exposed to it on TV despite all my protectiveness and who knows what has sipped into her brain that even I could not stop. The other day, a video about a teenage girl and a four year old boy having sex was made available for download on the web and before that, a photo of a four and six year old having sex under a table also went viral. Somewhere in the South-west, last year, a ten year old girl had a baby for her boyfriend, a twelve year old boy. Cases like these are not isolated and are becoming rampant around the world, especially now when we have grandmothers from the ages of twenty-four and twenty-five. In the midst of all this, these children are now very exposed to HIV/AIDS and a host of other deadly STDs. And if that be the case, doesn’t it become imperative to encourage the practice of safe sex as against forbidding them from being around the opposite sex and acting like sex just doesn’t exist around them? Now, before you go biting my head off, that was just a thought. I don’t think any sane individual would ever imagine their eleven or ten year old having sex and encourage them into it.
Wow! Having considered both sides of the argument, my conclusion is that in these times, parents and guardians have the grave but very important responsibility of properly tutoring kids about sex. About the timing, it is a matter of personal choice. Children who come from homes where sex is not seen as a taboo or a meaningless act just for pleasure will often face the adult world with a grounded and rounded approach to their sexual issues. Telling a child sex is bad, makes that child only want to do it and when he/she does it and enjoys doing it, then it becomes all about pleasure and the end result is meaningless sex and yes, the even best of us, as much as we want to deny it, know that it is not always all about the pleasure. It is a conscious, mature decision to share oneself with another and if we go giving condoms to twelve year olds who are not mature enough to comprehend this, we can as well be snatching them away from the playgrounds and throwing them into brothels and with our very eyes, we will watch them follow our steps and hand condoms to three year olds in the very near future.
Maybe I am too extreme with my thoughts. I really would love to hear what you think.