Peer Pressure and Our Children’s Sexuality: What You Need to Know

Until recently, sexuality remained a topic that was shunned by many (at least, openly). Those who dared speak of sexuality did so in hushed tones. Socio-cultural norms and religious dogma, for long time, made it difficult for conversations on sexuality to happen, with parents, elders, and the clergy grabbing the fastest route to weasel out of any contexts that would evoke such discourse. Those who would muster the courage to bring this up would be considered immoral and of a sinful nature – in fact, in need of repentance if not an exorcism. 

Wake Up! The Tide on Sexuality Is Changing! 

Advances in globalization and the consciousness of human rights and freedoms have however challenged the status quo. Norms are being broken – if not changed altogether. Active pursuits of the right to access information, coupled with the freedoms of choice, association, and expression have raised a generation that is keen on understanding, embracing, and expressing their sexuality without bearing the burdens of cultural habitude, religious proclivities, and societal norms perceived to be retrogressive or oppressive. Governments, civil societies, and corporate institutions are continually stepping up to create safe spaces for these young and emerging voices to find expression and be amplified as the narrative is changing on such issues as gender identity and expression, contraception, abortion rights, legal dilemmas on age and accountability, equality and equity, gender roles and mainstreaming, etc. 

A challenge, however, is the role and place of peer pressure within the general spectrum of these conversations. It is largely known that most of the formative conversations around sexuality happen at the prime of childhood and adolescence – about the same time when one’s susceptibility to peer pressure can be easily heightened by the somewhat outrageous zeal to explore and take risks on almost everything. Peer pressure is the influence on an individual who gets encouraged to follow others by changing their attitudes, values, or behavior to conform with those of the influencing group or individual – positively or negatively. A peer could be anyone you look up to in behavior or someone whom you would think is equal to your age or ability. On the other hand, the term pressure implies the process that influences people to do something that they might not otherwise choose to do. Children try to get in touch with their peers as early as the age of seven. Peers exert influences in written messages, such as positive and negative reviews, comments, suggestions, discussions, or experiences. The presenting challenge is that for children, the force of peer pressure usually comes at a time when they lack the adequacy of information and exposure to make informed choices as well as the internal and external capacity to deal with the possible outcomes of the choices.  

What to Do: Prevention Is Better Than Cure 

Parents, caregivers, and all involved with the growth and development of a child will have to contend with the outcomes of the child’s choices – including those made for no reason but peer pressure. Rather than wait to take rehabilitative action afterward, how about actively pursuing preventive action? Perhaps we should own the responsibility of giving children access to information and requisite exposure on the possible choices and outcomes when it comes to their sexuality and the individual nature of such decisions. After all, is prevention not better than cure? 

Most of the youth who are sexually active have challenges accessing youth-friendly services on matters of sexual healthcare. This is due to, among many other reasons, the stigma associated with matters on teenage sexualityAPonea, we offer an affordable Sexual Wellness Package that includes tests that screen for various sexually transmitted diseases. The tests can be done from wherever they are comfortable with hence ensuring their privacy. 

Call or WhatsApp at +254111013900 today to book an appointment for you and your loved ones. 

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