Sex education: How society has failed children

Wednesday, February 15th, 2023 06:27 | By
A teacher and her students in class. In its manifesto, Kenya Kwanza Alliance commits to equitable universal education — defined as 12 years of schooling. PD/FILE

As the Western world pushes for recognition of homosexuality and lesbianism in world’s South, especially in Africa, cases of homosexuality among schoolgoing children and teenagers have been rampant in recent years.

In Kenya, cases of children practising homosexuality or enticing their peers to it as well as reports of schools covering up homosexuality recruitments by pupils are slowly getting more common day by day.

But the obnoxious thing so far has been adults making fun of this modern day moral decay, especially when it involves minors.

Recently, a video of teachers from a primary school in Kisii urging pupils to demonstrate homosexuality acts surfaced online, attracting a public outcry.

At the background of the video, the said teachers could be heard joking and laughing out loud as the four boys demonstrated the sexual acts.

The worrying bit was that all these were being done in front of other students whom some might have had no knowledge of such acts, but due to childhood curiosity might have gotten interested and attempted.

Child psychologist Mariapia Kagendo says with the less involvement of parents in their children’s life, children are learning wrong things from every corner of the world.

“Our children are being parented by everyone and everything, but not us parents. We have left social media, our domestic workers and the internet, which is readily available with no monitoring to play our parental roles. We have let teachers educate them about everything, even matters on sex,” she says.

Kagendo says the majority of the things they are learning from outside is not monitored nor checked on whether it is appropriate for children’s consumption.

She adds, “They end up being misled and misguided and since parents are busy, they do not have anyone to turn to ask questions and fill gaps. They carry some of the things they learn from other children and start practicing with their peers. It is clear, some parents have failed in their role.”

Parents fail children

She says the responsibility to teach children morals and virtues solely lies on parents and guardians and partially, on religious groups such as churches and mosques.

Aside from the busy schedule of the parents, Kagendo says parents are still using “stone-aged” skills to parent the current generation.

In the previous years; the world did not have the Internet or electronic gadgets where children could access alternative information, but the current generation has everything at their disposal.

Kagendo says parents should have that in mind, therefore should be friends with their children, thus making themselves the alternative source of information.

“We need to be friendly to our children. That will make them comfortable to open up to us whenever something happens or have information that they doubt. They need to know we are the parents and they can learn from us,” she notes.

The Kenya National Parents’ Association chairperson Silas Obuhatsa says there are many things that might be happening in schools, but parents and the government are not aware. 

“In previous years, teachers were second parents and they helped in guiding our children. But with the Kisii video, it is clear things have changed and teachers can no longer be trusted. How many things do they do that are not known? he poses.

Obuhatsa says the main gap in sex education is that the majority of parents, especially in rural areas, have zero information on how to start off sex discussions with their children.

He says some parents are shy of even mentioning the word “sex” around their children since it is a taboo in the African set-up.

“If a parent cannot talk about basic issues on sex, how do you expect them to discuss about homosexuality. It is high time parents realise that times have changed and children are taking lessons from all quarters of life,” he adds.

Psychologist Lois Okello says parents and caregivers and other adults in the community have lost basic values to guide children in the society.

She says if parents lack values and morals, it is possible for children to learn and even imitate whatever they see from people including their own parents.

“Some of these children are learning about these sex issues such as homosexuality within their own homes. They then go out and demonstrate with other children and even their own siblings. All these evils are happening because an adult allowed it and children learnt of it,” she says.

Okello further says the society has lost socialism, where a village was responsible for a child and the mandate did not lie with the parents only.

“Initially, if children were caught performing such acts, their parents would be called in and together with teachers, they will correct the students. But in our modern society, people only care about trending on social media and views they will get,” Okello says.

The psychologist says the pressure to make fun of everything has been so rife that we have thrown humanity to the air.

 Call to action

Okello says it was time for every entity to take seriously the responsibility of moulding moral-upright children in Kenya.

She says aside from parents and teachers; the church should take up their role of guiding the children in Godly ways and mentor children.

She says parents should also be alert for rumours of sexual issues brought forward by their children.

“When children approach us with any queries on sex and even homosexuality, let parents ask deeper on the origin of such info, check their level of understanding of that topic and then fill them with the correct info. Make sure you meet their curiosity,” she notes.

Obuhatsa says as a way of mitigating the situation, the association will be training parents in all schools on access to information, especially on sex education.

“Through the school boards, we will be bringing parents together and educate them on how they can have meaningful conversations on sex with their children since it is something that cannot be educated in schools,” he says.

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