Early Pregnancy, School dropout, drug addiction, STDs and HIV/AIDS infection are some of the problems assailing teenagers today. Many young people lack adequate education and guidance on how to cope with the pressures of growing up without dabbling into pastimes that could adversely affect their health and well-being.
It was therefore, a time to celebrate, when nineteen young people graduated from the six-week Adolescent Health Education Course, conducted by Action Health Incorporated, early in June.
The course was facilitated by Dolapo Oresegun, AHI’s IEC Programme Officer, with the aim of assisting participants develop a positive view of sexuality; provide them with information and skills about taking care of their health and helping them acquire the skills required to make decisions now and in the future.
The course focused on various issues of sexuality and most importantly, taught skills for goal-setting, decision making, effective communication, and clarifying values, such that they would not be easily influenced, especially through peer pressure, into engaging in activities that would adversely affect their future.
Bimbo Okunola, one of the course lecturers, while speaking on Sexuality, Society and Culture said that the family, society, formal education and personal disposition affect one’s sexuality. She also described the media as one of the social factors affecting the sexuality of adolescents. She said, “Despite the fact that we have many positive programmes on TV, children often get carried away with the negative ones. For instance, there are a lot of TV commercials which do not promote healthy behavior, like the cigarette commercials; and young people are often greatly influenced these adverts. They see handsome men and beautiful women smoking the cigarette as role models who they would love to imitate or become like, so they dabble into cigarette smoking in spite of the health hazards involved in the habit”
“Religion”, she noted “also affects ones sexuality, because each religion teaches sexuality in its own way. For instance, some religions are opposed to polygamy and pre-marital sex, while others do not see anything wrong with these practices.
With so many conflicting messages, how does a young person cope? Okunola asserted that “Getting one’s values clarified should be the ultimate goal. A clear understanding of what one really believes in, and what one values, helps one to make decisions that are in line with one’s beliefs – they help one resist pressures to conform to other people’s values and behaviour.
Kunle Ogun, a SSS 3 student, remarked “I’ve gained a lot from this course. It has helped me to know more about who I am personally, how to set my goals and go for them; and also how to abstain from sex and STDs.”
Yemisi Okuwa, a female SS2 student said, “I’ve learnt several things from this course, but above all, I’ve learnt that I should value myself. I am leaving this course with the resolve to stand up for myself with respect in all encounters with other people.