The Family Planning Association of T&T (FPATT) says it fully supports the call by Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Shamfa Cudjoe for sex education in schools and for children to be exposed to it at a much younger age.
In a statement yesterday, FPATT said: “We believe that the school setting provides an ideal environment to educate young people about sex before they become sexually active. It is a much better approach than to leave our young people to learn negative attitudes about sex and sexuality in the street, or the unregulated media.”
The FPATT said it is important to expose younger children to sex education because a significant number of them have their first sexual experience before age 13 and “continue to engage in unprotected sexual activity with multiple sexual partners, increasing their risk for a myriad of unfavourable outcomes.
“Indeed, the Caribbean remains a region with some of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the world. These facts demonstrate that open, honest conversations about sexual matters with trusted adults are severely lacking at a time when it is most needed.”
It added, however, that the school should not displace parents and their responsibility, but instead should support parents who might feel ill-equipped to broach subjects of sex and sexuality.
The statement continued: “We owe it to our children and our young people to better position them for an all-around successful life. Sensitizing parents, teachers, faith-based organizations, local communities and other key gatekeepers and stakeholders and giving permission to discuss it with young people, are essential steps towards implementing age-appropriate CSE (comprehensive sex education) in schools.
“We, as the decision-makers and the adults that younger ones look up to, have a responsibility to protect them from harm and to educate them in their best interests.”