Dad and mom can play an necessary function in terms of educating their adolescents about sexual and reproductive well being. Research have proven that open communication between dad and mom and adolescents can result in delay in sexual activity and promote constructive relationships and protected intercourse.
Nevertheless, research in sub-Saharan Africa additionally present that many dad and mom don’t know a lot about points associated to intercourse and aren’t comfy participating with adolescents on these issues. Typically, the place parent-child communication happens, it’s restricted to encouraging abstinence.
We wished to know extra about communication on intercourse between dad and mom and adolescents, particularly: how these conversations begin, what approaches work, what’s talked about and whether or not dad and mom are outfitted to have these conversations.
To do that, we carried out a examine in Korogocho, an off-the-cuff settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. The examine centered on communication between 32 dad and mom and 30 adolescents (each girls and boys) aged between 11 and 13 years.
We discovered that almost all dad and mom didn’t speak to their adolescents about intercourse and romantic relationships. Those that did had been extra more likely to speak to their daughters, as a result of they believed that they had been extra susceptible to dangers, similar to unplanned pregnancies. Additionally they tended to make use of worry and intimidation. Because of this, adolescents had been unwilling to speak to their dad and mom about their relationships.
Findings from our examine present insights into the necessity for intercourse training programmes for folks. This might equip them with the data they should help their kids with correct, well timed and age-appropriate info.
It’s necessary to deal with this concern as a result of adolescents in Kenya are prone to poor sexual and reproductive well being. As an illustration, in 2014 about one in each 5 adolescent women had been, or was, pregnant. Adolescents are additionally very susceptible to HIV. One in three new HIV infections happens amongst this group.
Poor sexual and reproductive well being may end up in bodily and socio-economic issues. For instance, many women who get pregnant drop out of college, which can have long-term implications for his or her potential to get well-paid jobs.
That is all a consequence of restricted entry to adolescent-friendly providers, taboos round overtly discussing sexual issues and infrequently conflicting, inaccurate or ambiguous messaging. This restricts the flexibility of adolescents to make knowledgeable choices about their well being and well-being.
Equipping dad and mom with the precise info on what to speak about, and the best way to discuss it, is a key step in addressing this main well being problem.
Korogocho is without doubt one of the most congested casual settlements in Nairobi. It has excessive crime charges, insecurity, unemployment, overcrowding, and restricted entry to well being providers.
We centered on an off-the-cuff settlement as a result of there’s proof that adolescents dwelling in these contexts are disproportionately uncovered to poorer well being outcomes than these dwelling elsewhere. This contains earlier sexual debut, larger charges of teenage pregnancies and unplanned pregnancies, and better HIV prevalence.
The dearth of applicable engagement between dad and mom and their kids could possibly be an element on this.
We discovered that almost all dad and mom thought 18 years was essentially the most applicable age to speak about points round intercourse. They thought of something youthful than this as too younger for romantic relationships and discussions about intercourse.
When conversations did occur, the timing was reactionary, usually triggered by a previous occasion within the neighbourhood, similar to a younger lady being pregnant. This means that the conversations could also be a one-time incidence that’s unlikely to encourage open and common discussions about intercourse and different associated matters.
The content material of the conversations was additionally restricted. Hardly ever had been matters similar to condom use, contraceptives, being pregnant prevention (besides abstinence), and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections mentioned. As a substitute dad and mom usually merely discouraged adolescents from having intercourse, noting the detrimental penalties of being sexually lively.
The communication additionally tended to be one-sided, authoritarian, fear-based and parent-initiated. Dad and mom packaged details about intercourse from a threat perspective. This communication method discouraged adolescents from disclosing their relationship standing for worry of bodily, verbal and emotional abuse. This would come with bodily beating, getting chased away from dwelling and having their training discontinued.
Lastly, we discovered that there have been gender variations in communication: extra women than boys talked to their dad and mom about romantic relationships. Equally, extra dad and mom had conversations about sexual relationships with their daughters as a result of they felt the ladies had been extra susceptible to sexual dangers.
Leaving boys out is a severe concern – it limits their entry to info and will heighten their probability of participating in dangerous sexual behaviours, catching sexually transmitted infections, early fatherhood, and sexual violence.
A approach ahead
There’s a solution to deal with these challenges.
There are intercourse well being programmes – similar to Familias Fuertas in South America, and Households Matter in Kenya – which have proven that offering dad and mom with the abilities and data they want makes them extra comfy and assured in terms of addressing problems with intercourse with their kids.
Lastly, conversations about intercourse want to start early – from about 5 years – and ought to be age-appropriate and based mostly on factual info. This timing provides younger individuals the mandatory instruments and expertise to make knowledgeable choices.
Efficient communication can complement age-appropriate school-based sexuality training and allow younger individuals to make choices that promote their well being and well-being.
Beatrice Maina works for the African Inhabitants and Well being Analysis Middle. Beatrice is a PhD candidate on the College of Public Well being, College of the Witwatersrand below a fellowship from the Consortium for Superior Analysis Coaching in Africa (CARTA)
Boniface Ushie works with the African Inhabitants and Well being Analysis Middle
Caroline Kabiru works for the African Inhabitants and Well being Analysis Middle.
Meggie Mwoka is affiliated with the African Inhabitants and Well being Analysis Middle