Me: “Good morning? I just bumped into a P2 box in this compound. Like who wants to show off their sexual behavior this early?
Ma’am1: Morning too. Do not even be surprised if it is a child who came with it
Me: From their home maybe but I wouldn’t be expecting this kids to know P2 at their age
Ma’am2: Hi Evalyne. Why don’t you tell her we caught ‘boy1’ with condoms?
Me: What was he doing with them?
Ma’am2: He said he collected them on his way here but he is one naughty boy anything is possible
Me: So you think these children are already sexually active?
Ma’am1: Some are but blame it on their parents
(Ma’am2 and I get closer as Ma’am1 is always updating us on the social issues facing the ghetto children since she is a teacher in a local primary school)
Ma’am1: First of all the housing structures in which this families live is very dire.
Ma’am2 and 1: The bedsitter houses?
Ma’am1: Yes. A family has 5 children who sleep either on the floor or seats while the parents have the bed.
Me: That reminds me on the several home visits we went where some of these kids neither have beds, blankets nor mattresses. It’s not like the older days where the organization bought everyone their bedding, this days the budget limits us to about 20 or so in 3 months and you wonder who to give or not. Distribution is one task I don’t like.
Ma’am1: Now you see what am talking about? Then the parents have their conjugal rights whereby they end up having sex when the children are asleep but you know this is a single room so every sound, talk is heard.
(From the way she puts it, minding vulgar language, we all laugh)
Ma’am2: But where do you want them to live?
Me: Parents are casual laborers while others have no job at all. This is the only accommodation they can afford
Ma’am1: They should shift to one bed-roomed houses where their privacy is a secret or do their business when the children are not around
Ma’am2: That is next to impossible
Me: This is the ghetto. How then do you transform individuals from low incomes-middle incomes for them to shift houses? Mind you their level of education screams a lot. You see the business class only about 10 attended and their certificates are so beautiful
Ma’am1&2: Let us see the certificates
Me: Wait till the director comes, he has them. Then there was the mat and bag weaving class. Again only less than 5 finished that class. Have you seen their products? They got the skills now the institution is going to market them
Ma’am2: What happened to the children’s bead making?
Me: I understand from the budget it was not included now we have to wait for another financial year to include even things like yogurt making, dying and so much been looked into
Ma’am1: That’s the problem with the care-givers. When opportunities strike they don’t want to be part of it as if they like their poor state
Ma’am2: It’s all in the mind. Changing it to another thinking level requires patience
Me: Back to houses…
Ma’am1: The children copy what they see from parents. You hear them talk that this and that happened to an extent they want to experiment.
Me: Hope you teach them sexual education and not in the old-fashioned manner where everyone hides some information. Go straight to the point and let them know what awaits them when they indulge in early sex
Ma’am2: No matter how people criticize sex education it is the high time it was included as part of teaching lessons
Me: Did you parents ever have the sex talk back then?
(Everyone nods their heads sideways)
Me: Even I my mother has never had that talk and I thank God for aunts who are so talkative that they tell you this things. So back then in your eras it was a taboo now from exposure it is daily bread. From the movies, tv programs, peer pressure the children socialize with, they know so much we don’t.
Ma’am1: You see even my daughter (5years old) asked me if daddy’s thing is called sausage
(We all pop our eyes out as I shout Ooh No!)
Ma’am2: What did you tell her?
Ma’am1: I asked her where she got that information from
Me: And then?
Ma’am1: There is a kid on the block she plays with and she heard it from him. For lack of words I just said yes
Me: hahaha “cha mama, cha baba” (this is game where kids act as adults and there is the mother, father and children…call it house). When can a child be introduced to sex education?
Ma’am2: As soon as they start asking questions about where kids come from? No more lies about ‘doc gave him to me, i found him in the hospital, an angel dropped him to me.’
Ma’am1: I agree once they start going to school. Now I will have to be very careful with her. We teach them (both boys and girls) songs like no one should touch your body especially private parts and it works.
Me: Nice. Concluding this talk like parents should practice safe sex where children are not exposed and should keep their family planning methods away from reach of children
Ma’am2: Yes that can work but more needs to be done
Ma’am1: I rest my case. Shift houses but that is food for thought. Let’s think about it seriously.
(Laughter fills the room as ma’am1 and ma’am2 exit to their respective classes).
- What is the best way forward to sensitize children to stay away from early sex?
- How do we reduce poverty and illiteracy levels especially in the ghetto neighborhoods?
- When is the right age for sexual education?