Controversy over sex education, storm in a tea cup?

BY KITNES - Oct 14, 2019 at 5:50pm 100

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A vicious stream of propaganda messages and photos seems to have set in motion a misguided campaign to scuttle what from all indications is intended to appropriately educate children and young people on sex.

Sex has become a taboo topic and on many occasions, religious fanaticism and cultural dogmatism are to blame; under the excuse of enforcing moral values, some religious and cultural leaders turn guns on anything that seeks to discuss sex.

One may not always blame such leaders as sometimes they have simply been misled.

But giving children sex education is very important in our contemporary world.

It can empower children to live healthy lifestyles and help prevent dangerous STDs.

Good sex education can also help children spot signals of danger and teach them how to avoid paedophiles both in their physical surroundings and online.

It is important to point out that sexual abuse knows no barrier; it is in schools, offices, homes etc.

Quite embarrassingly, sometimes is clothed in religious and cultural apparel and in such dimensions, it is even more deadly as it is easily masked. The plan to educate young adults and children on sex is very noble.

Some argue that we should allow parents to educate their children on sex; unfortunately, most parents are uncomfortable discussing this subject with their kids so their children discover it for themselves or are abused into the knowledge of their sexuality.

Worst of all, some parents are themselves neck deep in child sexual abuse, thus, the exclusive right to parents handling sex education is without any basis.

Some studies suggest that, about 90 per cent of children who are sexually abused are abused by people they know; fathers, uncles, teachers, pastors, aunties, mothers, big sisters, big brothers, family friends and neighbors.

Most often, pedophiles prey on the innocence and naivety of their victims.

Killing softly

In 2013, award-winning music director, Aswad Ayinde was jailed for 90 years for sexually abusing his daughter.

Indeed, Aswad abused all his six daughters some at the very early age of eight and fathered six children with them.

Years after her ordeal, one of her daughters, Aziza Kibibi, said in an interview, “he told me I was special.

Initially, it was to teach me how to be a woman”.

Ayinde won a MTV Music Video award for the American music group, Fugees, 1996 hit song, Killing me softly.

At the time he was getting the accolades for directing a super music video, he was sexually abusing his little daughters and killing them softly until they were rescued by state agencies.

But Ayinde was a ‘regular’ guy. And there are many more ‘regular’ men and women messing up with little girls and boys who have no clue that they are being abused.

It boils down to naivety and ignorance; “For lack of knowledge my people perish”, so says the Bible.

Sex crimes are on the rise; according to the Interpol, a lot more people are traveling abroad to commit sex crimes.

Africa is becoming a favoured destination for sex crimes because our society still keeps sex education under the wraps and poverty throws many children in the streets at the mercy of dangerous paedophiles both local and foreign.

Probably, there are many more people, now all grown up and married with children who have kept dark secrets about how they were sexually abused by fathers, uncles, aunties, pastors, teachers, mothers etc. but who have lived on and kept mute because they don’t want to ‘stigmatise’ themselves and their families.

In any case, no one ever teaches anyone how to discover his or her sexuality; most children begin to discover their sexuality once they get into their teens, and some engage in reckless adventures that leave them with life-long scars.

The sad reality is that some children are not made to discover their sexuality; they are abused into it and this is what sex education of children at the very elemental level is about.

Propaganda

A recent news report indicated that some teenagers in Ghana have been using weedicides for abortion. That is the hard reality of sex in our schools.

Our children are already engaged in sex; embarking on dangerous expeditions and using methods and substances that may scar them for life.

We have to fight it but how do we do that? Education! Prayer is good but even the Bible teaches us that faith without works is dead.

The social media propaganda against Child Sex Education has been puerile.

It has portrayed sex education as a waiting demon, ready to pounce on our kids. Deceptively, it has used wrong images to scandalise the policy.

It assumes an imagery fanned by pure deception sometimes showing explicit pictures of male and female genitals and their erogenous parts with demonstrations on condom use among others, arguing that under the policy, such content is meant for children in Kindergarten and Primary One.

These portrayals justifiably have drawn the ire of well-meaning Ghanaians.

But pause to ask, who in his or her right senses will sanction a curricula that educates children in kindergarten or primary one on the use of condoms, contraceptives, homosexuality etc.?

Such thoughts are at best farcical.

To mischievously and deceptively fabricate such stories with the aim of misleading everyone including members of the clergy for whatever interests or reasons is highly irresponsible.

Religious organisations have to be cautious and measured in their response to such issues else they play into the trap of self-seeking groups and individuals who are bent on making them pawns to draw controversy using the power of social media.

Indeed, social media has almost driven us into an era where one can easily discern the re-emergence of the “magic bullet” effect of the media.

New media messages seem to have direct impact on media consumers; A few years ago, a simple mobile phone text message roused thousands from their sleep, lifted them from their beds and dumped them in the streets as they awaited an “apocalyptic earthquake” that never happened.

Both educated and uneducated people fell for the hoax; academics, engineers, lawyers, labourers, students, doctors, journalists, cleaners, waiters etc. It was a simple text message and false as it was, many were unable to identify that it was a hoax.

The danger of propaganda is sometimes underestimated; when Hitler embarked on his extermination of six million Jews, it was fanned by brutally deceptive propaganda machinery driven by his trusted PR man, Joseph Goebbels.

The Education Ministry and the Ghana Education Service (GES)?should address these issues more aggressively.

One expects a bit more open engagement with stakeholders to dismantle this vicious campaign against what from all indications, is a well-intentioned policy.

The writer is a lecturer with speciality in Communication Studies.
Writer’s Email: nkrumahdan@gmail.com

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