CONDOMS, OUR CHILDREN AND THE DEED

On Tuesday 4th June 2019, I was privileged to be part of a consultative workshop at the African Reagent Hotel, convened to validate the Ghana State of Youth Development Report. As part of the activities to achieve the goal of the programme, participants were given the opportunity to suggest aspects of youth development in Ghana that may not have been captured adequately in the report for consideration. We were grouped in our areas of specialisation to note such omitted areas and present same to the plenary.  By virtue of my interest and specialisation in health as a sociologist, I joined the health domain group. Our discussion was coordinated by Joshua Atabinore Akharigeya, a gentleman from PPAG. Fortunately for him, he was the one to present our suggestions. He took the opportunity to make a strong appeal for condom demonstration in Ghanaian schools. His argument was that, the children were having sex anyway and getting into undesirable consequences; condom demonstration would show them how to have safe sex.

I did not give this a lot of thought until Sunday 21st July 2019. I attended church service as usual at Atwima Brofoyedu near Kumasi. This particular day, Douglas Ocran, our national children’s pastor visited us. He decided to take a moment to passionately encourage parents to ‘fortify’ their children against prevailing pressures by investing in their spiritual development. At a point one of the reasons he gave for this fortification was the changing paradigm in the educational syllabus and the emergence of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Ghanaian schools. He said, “Before you realise, your children will be taught how to use condoms in school.” His point was that such content in the educational curriculum would be detrimental to children. Just as he voiced this concern my mind went back to the consultative workshop. Indeed, there is a high level advocacy for an increased depth in Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Ghanaian schools.

Obviously, the church and PPAG have different goals. Whilst the church offers hope that adolescents can abstain from sex outside marriage through the power of the gospel, organisations like PPAG try to offer hope of preventing some undesirable consequences of unprotected sex. But between the arguments for and against condom demonstration in schools stand the realities of sex, pregnancy, abortion and STIs among adolescents. I prefer not to go into any statistics. But let me point out some media reports on pregnant 2019 BECE candidates.

Nine (9) teenage mothers and eight (8) pregnant teenagers sat for the examination in the Asante Akim North District. The District Director of Education is quoted to have said that “There could be more pregnancies.” (Myjoyonline.com, 11th June 2019).

Twelve (12) pregnant girls wrote the examination in the Bolgatanga Municipality (Ghana News Agency, 11th June 2019).

Seven (7) pregnant girls wrote the exam in the Awutu Senya West District (Adomonline, 11th June 2019).

About ten (10) candidates in the Savelugu municipality were unable to sit for the exams due to pregnancy (Peacefmonline, 11th June 2019).

Eleven (11) pregnant girls were among candidates the Tano North Municipality (Ghana News Agency, 13th June, 2019).

Three (3) pregnant girls and one (1) lactating mother in the Berekum West District; Four (4) pregnant girls in the Tarkwa-Nsueam Municipality; Three (3) pregnant candidates in the Agona East District; One candidate in Sissala East gave birth to a bouncy baby girl right after writing the first paper on Monday (The Chronicle, 14th June 2019).

Remember these figures are a sample of media reports on pregnant girls for only the 2019 BECE. I have not even added anything about the boys who may have impregnated them. In fact other issues like abortions and STI’s have not been mentioned.  So how do we deal with this? The Church’s way or the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) way?

Sexual urge, natural human instinct is fresh and strong in adolescents. It is also natural that sex will lead to pregnancy when had at the right time and in the right way. Apart from natural and traditional ways of preventing pregnancy, technology has given us various avenues to prevent pregnancy. Some of which are the use of condoms, pills, vasectomy, tubal litigation, diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges, spermicides, patches, injections, vaginal rings, implants, etc. The question is, should we give adolescents knowledge of all these? Should we encourage them to use any of these methods at their age?

Sociologically, society answers these questions. We as a society determine what approved behaviour is and what is not. In that case there must be a national conversation about the matter. CSE is already in our educational curriculum. It is just that some aspects like condom demonstration are not allowed. While I wish this does not go any further than it has reached, I see that the trajectory of our society’s development is leading to a more detailed CSE in our country.

29 thoughts on “CONDOMS, OUR CHILDREN AND THE DEED”

  1. we re having AIDS awareness programmes but still people are contracting the virus. And we cannot say that those students who got pregnant knew nothing about the usage of condom. I see the trend as fulfilling prophecies in the scripture and nothing can eradicate this canker unless we remove those prophecies from the Bible.

    1. But you can also not deny the numbers who have been saved from HIV through the sensitization programs.
      Well sometimes the absence of knowledge can be detrimental, or as it was put, “for lack of knowledge…”

  2. Samuel Osei-Gyebi

    I have always advocated parents even teach their teenagers about condom use because it is better to have their girl child complete school than to drop out due to unwanted pregnancy. The case of contracting STIs is also possible so there is the need to add sexual education about these things after entreating them to abstain. It will surely safe everyone a lot of stress!

  3. Esther Twumaa Yeboah

    Nicely written!

    Certainly, as a Christian and maybe a sociologist or even just someone who’s concerned about the future of the children and by extension, the society, this is a conflict of interest. I think the church has a bigger responsibility. The school(education) is playing well her part by imparting knowledge.

    It’s about time, the church delved deeper into the subject of sex — premarital sex, the pros (if any) and the cons. If the church would take a step further into teaching and saying it as it is without having to embellish it, I am certain it would go a long a way.

    Also, the church can’t play the role of the parent, hence parents must be actively involved in this. Sometimes, we may not have to even bring in spirituality, these kids have fragile minds and could have ill mindsets about sex in the long run. It would be somewhat herculean to teach an adolescent about sex and its ramifications when they’re already adolescents. Perhaps, a start even before they grow into adolescents, before they observe changes in their bodies would be beneficial. Parents are not to be negligent about their wards’ friendships, as much as possible, be friends also with their friends so they don’t end up being influenced negatively.

    M’ano ɛsi…thank you.😊

    1. Esther Twumaa Yeboah

      Unfortunately, not every parent is in the capacity of enlightening their wards, some got pregnant in their teenage years and ended up marrying, some never had the opportunity of going to school, some are simply indifferent(yes, you read that). Maybe, parents need to be educated also.

  4. A good subject for discussion but is there any advocacy to help this young adolescent? It’s a social canker which needs to be dealt with. It’s every parents responsibility to teach every young growing adolescent and how to go about it. A lot have suffered because of the lack of education on this matter. It’s not too late. It can be curbed.

  5. Should we kill the murderer or jail the murderer?

    There has always been secular and religious conflict.
    The best way to avoid any of these consequences is abstinence. But to achieve abstinence, there is the need to have teaching that establishes firm roots before the behaviour of sexual promiscuity grows its wings and gets muscles in its feet.

    I believe that good teaching by the church can go a long way to arrest the situation. The problem is, because of the failure of the “church” and by extension failed parenting. Children who have not been trained the way they should go are expected to be able to go in that way by some magical means by the same parents and society which has failed in their nurturing role.

    Sex education is the social or rather secular way of solving the problem. But we may all agree that letting go of bad attitudes once they’ve been picked up is quite a challenge. The only way to render the secular perspective irrelevant or even unnecessary is for the church to intensify how it approaches the menace.

    In sum, the church should teach more on abstinence and chastity so the younger generation does not go into it in the first place. The sex education people who have not identified the root cause can also continue trying to solve the situation through their means that seek to prevent the exercabation the effects of sexual promiscuity.

    The church thus must seek to fight from the root of the problem while the secular folks work on removing the manifest issues of the rot.

    Sorry for talking too much😃🕺🕺🕺😋

  6. Esther Barfour Awuah

    The “Family unit” has failed to “train up the child in the way he should go” as instructed in the Holy writ and we are seeing the damning consequences now but wait… I guess you are soon-to-be parent… The Lord is counting on you to raise a godly seed to curb the corrupting influence of the masses…oh yes, its possible. “Heal Our Land” oh God, we pray.

  7. Deborah Abena Sarpong

    Let me leave a comment here.
    Some conservative Christian families never talk to their children about sex and it’s related issues. The mechanism such parents use and still preach is “Abstinence” and sometimes, put fear in you not to get pregnant, else your dreams would be aborted. However, we live in a society where other social institutions apart from the family also play a critical role in the development of our children. Therefore, I encourage the family, that’s parents to play their role . We all know that, our family gives us our initial socialization. Parents should feel free to talk to us about sex (as we’re also growing, we need not to repeat the mistakes of our parent and teach our children about these things too). Also, our religious bodies should find ways and means to inculcate the habit of “abstinence” in us. They shouldn’t avoid preaching to us about sex, purity and others. In conclusion, the family, church and other institutions must all play their part well. However, our families have a huge role to play in our initial socialization.

    1. Deborah Abena Sarpong

      Let me add this, some churches especially conservative ones organize seminars for youths and adolescents. However, they fail to delve deeper in issues relating to sex. We always get lectured on theoretical aspects while they neglect practical ways of reducing such social canker. We also get bored and are not willing to patronize such programs. I’m summary, I repeat, the church has to find innovative ways to talk to us about sex. Putting fear in us will rather make the adventurous ones to experiment.

    2. Esther Twumaa Yeboah

      Nice one, but Abena, in what ways do you think the church can inculcate abstinence in us? I mean, we all make up the church and our supposed target audience may not even get to read our ideas here, maybe some specifics will do.

  8. Wow that’s a thought provoking write up..
    I love it .
    I am talking here as a health educator/promoter .
    The truth is that, both the church and health interventions can come together to work this out. As the school and health workers educates the teenager on condom use, the church on the other can preach on the deadly consequence it has on their souls. The choice lies on the individual to make at last.
    Not all teenagers are”born again” Christians and not all of them know about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will only be worsening the situation if we tell them to abstain from sex because it’s sin, this is because 60% don’t even think about that when the need arises…
    But I believe if the church, teachers and health workers do their part, we will make a positive impact in the lives of these teenagers who are the future leaders of GHANA.

  9. Benedicta Nyarko Anin-Acquah

    Nicely written bro, parents should do their part in training and bringing their wards up,that’s very important,the church should strictly hammer on that situation on how to put a stop to it,educate them on the danger it entails ,societal org. n schs can do their part since we can’t stop them. as long as parental advises are soo strong the children might even give a deaf ear to what they see and are being taught. We should also pray along side.

  10. Michael Nana A Nkansah

    There’s a saying that ‘curiosity kills the cat’ so educating the youth on the usage of some of these avenues created by technology to prevent undesirable consequences of unprotected sex will give them the exposure to Increase the rate of this unacceptable act

  11. As expected, you left us with more questions than answers. You cannot hurt the church,neither can u the society bcos u are a christian sociologist. But why can’t adolescents abstain?
    And why should the church be bothered by sex education in schools if they know they’ve done a good job with their kids in terms of morality? Teaching a little about Islam in schools ,according to the syllabus, does not turn all Christian kids into Muslims and vice versa. Why do they think teaching them sex education can increase moral decadence?

  12. EmperorAlfreds...

    Fair enough, the knowledge imparted is solid but the best way out is abstinence…
    Today’s Youth and children needs a good choice to make because this life is lived once.

  13. Great write up Isaac! And I like how it’s an all inclusive, open discussion and not one skewed on either side of the divide. Let me say that I think there’s not just one solution to societal problems. Just as there are different stake holders, there’s equally different views and opinions. Abstinence is the surest proven way to avoid the repercussions of non abstinence, which is the ideal! But the reality is that even those who advocate and are ardent believers of abstinence slip up every now and then, how much more those who don’t really care?!… what do we do? Well I think it’s quite simple… Like someone rightly said on this same platform… let every party do their job well! The church and religious bodies in general have a huge role to play! But of course they could never even begin to fill the shoes of the nuclear family from which everybody hails and gets their first moral lesson!. And Let’s commend the society for trying to come up with ideas as the CSE… that’s what they can do! In the end, we’re all keeping the society from the unwanted detrimental effects of non abstinence.

  14. Great, well spoken bro, I really love it.
    Now, is obvious that majority of our Christian families never talk to their children about sex or anything related to it and this is becoming a problem.
    Please cut the stem first which will help you cut the branches😁😁😁😁😀😘

  15. Pingback: COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION: LET’S HAVE AN INFORMED CONVERSATION | Isaac Osei Owusu

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