“Even with the passage of the RH (reproductive health) law, we don’t have sexuality education in place through the schools in the Philippines. We know this because naglilibot din kami (we go around),” lamented lawyer Clarita Padilla, spokesperson of the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network (PINSAN) during a recent press conference.
With the 2016 budget cut on contraceptives, as well as the absence of sexuality education in public schools throughout the country, reproductive health advocates fear the number of mistimed pregnancies among teenagers will increase in the coming months.
“The one billion budget cut will really have implications on RH services needed, especially for adolescents,” added May-i Fabros, Youth Commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women, referring to the cut on the Department of Health’s budget for contraceptives.
According to Fabros, there are 600,000 induced abortions per year, at least a third of which involve adolescents.
With the increasing number of teenage pregnancies and the failure of schools to provide teens with correct information on sex and sexuality, sexuality education now rests solely on the shoulders of parents.
READ: Teenage pregnancy in Philippines: Tips for pregnant teens and parents
The reality is sexuality education should begin at home. There’s no getting around the fact that children will learn about sex and sexuality eventually—if not from their parents, then from somewhere else. It only makes sense that parents should be the first ones to educate their children on this topic.
Experts agree that communicating openly with your children about sexuality encourages them to be more open with you in discussing other adolescent issues, such as depression, drugs, and alcohol, among others.
According to Doctor Miriam Hauffman of About Kid’s Health, an online publication, “Beginning a conversation about sex early and continuing that conversation as the child grows is the best sex education strategy.”
Talking to your young adults about sex and sexuality not only ensures they get the right information. It also allows you to instill your family values into their perceptions and understanding of sex.
“Parents should not rely on the school system to teach sex education. Depending on where you live, sex education may not even be available. If your child is taught sex education at school, review it with your child. Ask them what they learned. What a child learns from friends and in the schoolyard will be incomplete and incorrect. It may also be demeaning or even dangerous,” Hauffman also wrote.
Talking about sex and sexuality with your kids can be awkward at first. Dr. Phil enumerates some pointers to follow when talking to your kids about sex, and ensuring they have healthy perceptions on sex, sexuality, and their self worth:
Define sex with your child.
Make it clear that anything involving a sex organ is sex, including oral sex.
Be prepared and honest.
Read up on sex. Do your homework. Answering your child’s questions as honestly and as factually as possible is a good game plan. Talk to your child about sex (including oral sex) early and often. Being open about sex topics, even during your child’s early years, fosters better communication. Openly dialoguing with kids helps make both them and you comfortable about sensitive topics like sex.
Consider your child’s point of view and keep the conversation low key.
Do not talk down to your kids. Listen to them, and respond appropriately.
Don’t get mesmerized by the argument.
Don’t let your child convince you that premarital sex is okay just because everyone else is doing it.
Monitor “the four W’s”: who, what, when and where.
Monitor your child closely. Get to know their friends, where they hang out and what they do when they are out with friends.
Give them the correct information.
Chances are, your adolescent already knows about oral sex. And chances are, what they know is incorrect or incomplete. Strive to make your child recognize the “intimacy and the consequences that are attached to oral sex.” Educate your child about the health risks associated with oral sex. Explain to them that STDs can be transmitted through oral sex.
Make your child aware of the long-term effects on his/her reputation and self-esteem.
Engaging in sex or oral sex too early will put a stain on your child’s reputation, and can negatively impact his or her self-esteem.
“Children claiming that they are giving oral sex to ‘friends’ need to define “friend.” As Dr. Phil says, a friend is not someone who asks you to stick his penis in your mouth. Explain the phrase, “If you loved me, you would…” Explain to your child that giving sexual favors is no way to prove you love someone. As a parent, you must make your child feel special. Help your child see his or her self worth. Help them understand that they are special and worthy of respect.
Remind your child that self-determination is a privilege.
Remind your child that poor decision making is reflective of the level of their maturity and how much freedom they can get. Loosen your hold on them slowly as they prove they are mature enough to make mature decisions.
Not all contact with the opposite sex has to be sexual.
Emphasize the beauty of non-sexual relationships and how love can be expressed through other means.
READ: A Mom’s passionate letter to her daughter about crazy hot sex
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