By Dickson Tumuramye
OPINION | I have a crash on someone. How can I go about it? This was a question paused by an 8 year old daughter to her mummy on what to do since she has a boy she loves in her primary two class. As young as she is, the mummy could not easily clique what her daughter meant exactly. The mummy took it lightly until after two days when this young innocent girl asked her mummy for an answer again. It is then that her mummy was caught up in a shock only to discover that her daughter already knows about girl-boy relationships.
The mother was good enough to listen from her daughter and they had a good interaction. To her dismay, the daughter went on to explain the difference she knows about a boy lover and a boy friend. Another discovery by the mother was that this daughter was used as a post runner by older girls in upper classes to deliver love letters to their boyfriends in other classes. She even had one in her bag that she was to deliver but wanted her mummy to first see what old girls write at her school.
This sounds like strange but it’s true. Such things are happening to our children in primary and secondary schools. Mind you this child is a day scholar. You may be thinking of cursing taking your child to a boarding section while she is still young.
This comes back to us as parents with regard to the information we give our children when encountered with such life reality. Some of you would want to hide the truth and provide false information to your child thinking s/he is very young. That is the problem we have in our African beliefs. Sex education at an early age is like an abomination.
How have you addressed the occurring incidences of drug and alcohol abuse/addictions, homosexuality, early pregnancies with children? How often do you watch those cartoon programmes or episode series they like on TV with them? At least this could help you to discover what you did not know and make a right judgment whether they should continue to watch that programme or not. Do you take time to discuss with them what they watch and what they learn from it? Can they relate what they watch with what is happening today in our society?
It becomes worse when you get to know and before you seek facts about such allegations, you overreact and pretend to be holy than the Pope himself. “Sala puleesa, kakaana” my dear before you “kill” your daughter. Don’t look like an angel as if you don’t know these things. This is your best time to take your children through age-appropriate sex education. You are not spoiling your children by talking about it, but you are telling them how they should guard themselves from bad practices which are beyond their age. At 5-8 years old, you should start addressing real life issues to the level of their understanding.
They should know how to go about sexuality especially during relationships and the right time to get into relationships. It is your responsibility to guide your children on the best programmes they should watch and reading materials.
Don’t be blind to think that you are children are innocent because they have not yet approached you on these matters. You don’t need to wait for danger to happen and then you remember the way out. Act before anything happens and live a healthy reproductive life with your children.
The writer is a child advocate in Kampala