The Centre for the Study of Adolescence in Kenyan recently released a report that provoked much debate. The gist of the report was that kids, some as young as 12, are having sex a lot more than we imagined. There were apparently behavioural patterns that leaned towards prostitution.
The standard response from the debaters involved words like ‘moral decay’ and sexual promiscuity. As expected, the shock waves reverberated countrywide as the reasons and solutions to the declining state of our morals were tabled. First on the dock of the blame game were the astonished parents. Their defence? Sorry, we would love to engage more with our kids but we are too busy trying to give them a good life.
This is the recession and our focus is on trying to pay for education and kick the kids out of my house before they turn 30. Parents think schools should do something about this situation as long as they teach sex only in the laboratories. The schools, on their part, blame the parents. Everyone insists that merely teaching sexual education will do. But this is easier said than done.
The young ones are way past the biology lessons of reproduction. Sex, for them, is merely recreation. How does one start when you have boys and girls making passes at teachers who blush, instead of dealing with the issue. Everyone else blames the media. We, in the media, pass the buck onto society because we know sex sells but generally expect the audience to be more discerning.
The whole country is in high drama mode over a basic human practice. But unless we talk about these issues openly, they will never be tackled. Yet for the all the talking, we seem to be stuck in reverse gear. In the midst of all these conflicting messages, the children in actual need of some guidance end up more confused than enlightened.
I think the major stumbling block to any progress in understanding sexual behaviour among our youth is naivety. There is no way we can regulate sexual behaviour the same way we cannot regulate smoking. We are living in an era of instant gratification. If it brings pleasure, humans will want it.
We can try, just as we have tried making people eat healthy without any progress whatsoever. We cannot even get people to stop smoking or drinking and in the hierarchy of pleasure, none of these even come close to mating. Therefore, if there is any moral war to be fought, it should be the war that targets naivety on all fronts.
I propose a top-to-bottom approach. For one, we have to drop the outdated notion that children are innocent. I know for a fact that every generation of young people believe they are smarter than their parents. In cyberspace, they have access to information on sex that reduces the average adult’s knowledge to how a dinosaur would seem in the Maasai Mara.
These innocent cherubs are capable of stunts that counter every attempt to restrain their urges and most parents know it already. So, in castigating sexual protocol among young people, we need to focus on specific issues. First, we must stop pretending that sex does not exist for this group.
We all know a fresh carrot does not stand a chance in a pleasure contest with a dripping goat rib. The way around it, as we do in our nyama choma (roasted meat) dens, is to always ensure that some kachumbari or salads are available as constant accompaniment. As with choma, eating your greens should be the code word for condom use when it comes to these teens.
We have to acknowledge the pleasure principle. The average age of marriage has gone up which means the period of sexual activity has also increased. Sex education only impacts when it starts early. We should start inculcating the innocents at the age of five. One way of doing that is imprinting the fear of consequence.
Our religious fathers have managed to retain some level of order with the paradox of the original sin and the fear of eternal damnation. Just as the government keeps the populace law-abiding by ensuring jails remain inhospitable and overcrowded. Teaching young girls to save it for the right guy is so yester year.
For the budding young men, the message should be that once is enough to make her pregnant. The messages if any, should focus on responsible pleasure. When I was growing up, we knew that alcohol was only to be tolerated after work. To this date, I still feel guilty having a drink on a weekday before 5pm.
Traditional sex education had valuable solutions that should be revived and updated to solve the present dilemma. Not long ago, grandmothers took care of sexual education through a controlled environment that allowed them to monitor progress. They emphasised the detrimental consequences, yet always remembered that always labelling something as bad only aroused the curiosity of young people.
In our new urban scope, surrogate grandmothers should have centres where young girls can learn how to navigate the pleasure mine field without the damning consequences. We need Granny centres and Uncle centres, so as not to leave out the boy child. As all adults know in hindsight, sex and sugar are highly overrated. It is all about moderation and consumption patterns. [email protected]