Report by Iyabo Ogunlayi.
Recently Queen’s College Yaba, a federal secondary school based in Lagos, organized an enlightenment activity as part of the valedictory service for its out-going students.
The purpose of the program was to equip the young people with information and skills that would enable them to cope with the challenges of growing up beyond the protected confines o0f the school environment.
Action Health Incorporated was invited to make a presentation on Dating and Interpersonal Relationships. Mrs. Nike Esiet, AHI’s Project Director, facilitated the session, which had about 192 students and 29 adults in attendance.
Mrs. Esiet explained that Dating is an activity that involves two or more people meeting to spend time together for leisure. She stated that Dating often begins in the teenage years and it serves important functions in the psycho-social development of the young people.
She acknowledged that people date for different reasons, some of which include companionship, experience sharing, friendship and love. She also emphasized five important values that should underlie all dating and interpersonal relationships. These are Honesty, Self-Control, Equality, Responsibility, and Respect.
Discussions covered some situations that make dating more risky and difficult. These include the use of alcohol or drugs, going out with someone who is a lot older or has a bad reputation, and being alone at a party where people are paired off alone.
Alternative ways to show affection without having sex were highlighted. These include sending each other poems, cards or inexpensive gifts, going out together to places that are not secluded, sharing fun stories, or daily experiences, discussing your goals for the future and encouraging each other positively to achieve these goals.
Mrs. Esiet stressed that if inspite of all these a teenager does consider that sex may be an option, she should:
- Be prepared to protect herself against sexually transmitted diseases and an unwanted pregnancy.
- Be prepared to deal with the emotional challenges that may arise if the sexual relationship goes sour such as rejection by the partner and the ridicule.
- Remember that it is absolutely alright to wait, if one is not ready for sexual relationship.