Teenagers have been urged to open up to their parents or guardians on their sexual and reproductive health problems to ensure good guidance and protection as they transition into adulthood.
The call was made at a sexual and reproductive health awareness workshop for vulnerable teenagers at James Town organized by the Street Children Empowerment Foundation (SCEF) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana.
In a speech read on his behalf at the workshop, Mr. Paul Semeh, The Executive Director of SCEF underscored the unique role of parents in protecting teenagers from unwanted pregnancies and other sexual and reproductive health problems. He thus urged teenagers to keep their parents informed on the changes and challenges that comes with their growth.
"As you become teenagers and are transitioning into adulthood, your bodies will experience changes, which is very normal. Do not shy away from talking to your parents about those changes. When you talk to them, they will teach you how to manage those changes and take care of your body", Mr. Semeh admonished.
He also called on parents to prioritize sex education at home to help their children better understand the nuances of being a teenager. He advised them not to reprimand their children for bringing up such issues at home for discussion.
"I am happy we are starting this phase where we can constantly engage children especially teenagers in this area to understand the decisions and effects of sex on their physical health, mental health, and how they can plan their lives better. However, as parents, we also must make our homes a comfortable place for teenagers to freely talk about the challenges they face. We must build trust with the teenagers to make them more open to us", Mr. Semeh added.
The training, which was facilitated by the Young Leaders (YoLe) Fellows of UNFPA Ghana saw participants taken through Values Clarifications on Sexuality, Anatomy of Male & Female Sex Organ, Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights, Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights, Self-Esteem, Gender Roles and Relationships.
Expressing their satisfaction with the workshop, the young teenagers stated the knowledge gained has positioned them well to better protect themselves. They also resolved to carry the message back home to their siblings and friends.
‘’The training has benefited me a lot. I learnt that I should not be scared when I see some changes in my body because those changes are normal. So I will also go home and inform my friends’’, Emelia Nartey, a participant stated.
‘’The workshop today was very good. They taught us things that I never knew. I have learnt how to take very good care of my body, so I have not regretted coming here today’’, says another participant, Mercy Narh.
The workshop was organized as part of SCEF’s Yes to Adolescent Health (YASH) project, which seeks to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections and single parenthood. The workshop brought together 30 vulnerable teenagers who are beneficiaries of SCEF’s programs.