Parents, are you afraid of talking to your children about their bodies?
“It’s important for the youth to learn about their private body parts so they can protect themselves,” Mac-Mac said in Filipino.
At only 17, Mac-Mac has already educated many friends about adolescence, puberty, and gender equality. He is among the teens Save the Children trained on Adolescent Health.
“While they’re still young, children should already learn about this, so that they will be careful with themselves,” Mac-Mac explained.
Parents as educators
Learning begins at home.
But what happens if teens cannot find answers from their own parents?
They might seek explanations elsewhere – from the internet, the television, or fellow teens. And the answers they get might not always be accurate.
Misinformation about their bodies, for example, can cause great harm.
Without proper guidance, adolescents may be vulnerable to unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, abuse, and body image issues.
Hence, the need for parents to educate their adolescent children about the changes happening in their bodies, what these changes mean, and how they can protect themselves during this stage.
“Parents can teach about body changes including menstruation, bed wetting, and puberty.” said Dr. Miel Nora, Save the Children Philippines’ Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Advisor.
“In the Philippines, parents don’t openly talk about sex and sexuality at home or in school,” Nora observed. “Generally, some adolescent girls tend to discuss body changes and menstruation with their mothers. Meanwhile, adolescent boys communicate less about sex, relationships, and condoms.”
“We remind parents that they have a responsibility to protect and help children in areas where they may be at risk,” he stressed.
As for internet use among Filipinos ages 15-24, 26.3% reported visiting websites with sexually explicit content, the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study showed.
If they have no other source of information about sex and sexuality other than the above, then these adolescents might develop a false understanding of the subject.
“The most important thing is to be open and available whenever a child wants to talk,” Nora advised parents. “The parents’ openness to discuss and communicate will be a big factor in shaping a child’s behavior and understanding of sexuality."
"Remind adolescent children that they should be responsible for their own choices and actions,” Nora added.
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