Insight: Are parents ignoring their role in the AIDS fight?

Over the weekend, my friend also a mother visited me with her two daughters, who are 17 and 11 years respectively. We were having a good time talking about how the children are learning so much from television.The 11-year-old (called Amanda) started telling us of how she is old enough to have a boyfriend. I tried to convince her that she was too young for one.
Parents should openly speak about the dangers of HIV to their children.
Parents should openly speak about the dangers of HIV to their children.

Over the weekend, my friend also a mother visited me with her two daughters, who are 17 and 11 years respectively. We were having a good time talking about how the children are learning so much from television.

The 11-year-old (called Amanda) started telling us of how she is old enough to have a boyfriend. I tried to convince her that she was too young for one.

Amanda was well prepared to convince me with all sorts of different reasons as to why she needs a boyfriend. That is when her mother tried to chip and help me speak to her daughter.

Amanda hastily told her mom not to even say a word since she never discusses such issues with her.

“Mummy, you shouldn’t be talking because you have never even told me about sex.You never sit me down to tell me those things of big people. I only learn them from television and may be sometimes, the teachers tell us,” retorted Amanda.

Her mother was suddenly guilty because she was confronted by her daughter about the roles she had ignored.

Amanda’s mother and so many other women are not taking the responsibility to talk to their children about the dangers of unsafe sexuality. Out of curiosity, so many children seek to find answers in all the wrong places.

Last week, on December 1st, 2011, Rwanda joined the rest of the world in marking the World AIDS Day (WAD).

The national theme for this year’s WAD is, “Youth, let us join efforts in protecting ourselves and others against HIV for a brighter future”.

Over 5,000 youth gathered for the launch of the WAD campaign. I could not help but think of how many had gone through a sex-education chat regarding HIV/AIDS with their parents.

I had the chance to interact with a few youth and asked them on how they got information about AIDS and sex.

Just like I had anticipated, most of them mentioned billboards, television, magazines, newspapers while a few mentioned school.

However, do we ever stop and think of what exactly television exposes them to. Besides a few adverts on ‘using condoms’, several entertaining programmes make sexuality a priority to coolness. If you have ever watched MTV or soaps, you will confirm what I am saying.  You can hardly find a teenager watching a productive documentary film, news or talk shows.

Children are learning from soap operas and movies, that are mostly fiction and misleading as opposed to real life situations.

Its high time parents put behind their shyness or prehistoric behaviour of saying they cannot speak to their children about sexuality and HIV. Otherwise, the world will feed your child with the wrong information.

No mother wants their daughter to be infected with or die from HIV/AIDS simply because they did not talk to them about it.

maria.kaitesi@newtimes.co.rw

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