With the results of a ‘snap survey’ conducted by the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) showing that more than 50 percent of youths are sexually active, Public Health Minister Dr George Norton has affirmed that sexual and reproductive education must form a part of the curriculum.
The survey conducted by GRPA focused on adolescent and youth sexual trends and carried out in eight of Guyana’s ten regions.
From the survey sample of 392 respondents, the data collected showed that 42% of the respondents were sexually active. Those respondents were between the ages of 16-18 while 35% of them were under the age of consent, that is 16-years.
An overall total of 53% of the youths were engaging in sexual activity while they were still in school.
It also revealed that the male respondents had sexual encounters earlier than their female counterparts.
More into the figures, 20% of the respondents reported that they were either raped or coerced into sexual activity.
In the same vein, 26% of them were coerced while they were under the age of 12 and 61% of those coercing were over the age of 18.
As it relates to birth control, some of the respondents refused to use contraceptives because of religious and other uncommon reasons.
Asked where they would have acquired information on sex 30% of them responded that their parents played that role, with a menial 9% saying that the information was provided through the school system.
The researcher, Sherlina Nageer pointed out that it is especially important that sexual education be taught in schools since information provided via other sources may not always be correct.
She stressed that “youths want more information about sex and we as adults cannot ignore that.”
Dr Norton when questioned of the government’s role in this area was pellucid that the issue needs to be addressed.
“Sexual education must be a part of our curriculum…stop treating it like taboo…this is not the first time we are hearing about this conflict,” he stated.
Efforts are being made by the GRPA to conduct a larger study on the issue then use that data to urge the government to act on the issue.