Media reported that more young people are having sex at a younger age, constituting a potential social youth problem. Also, as reported on Jan 13, the number of sexually-transmitted disease is also on the rise. Our writers share with you their thoughts and opinions.
Writer: Candice Neo, University Student
Perhaps it is time to leave off the old cliché. We all know abstinence is the cure, and extra preaching is not going to improve the situation.
Of course, I am not saying we should forget it altogether. I personally believe in abstinence, but I am not going to impose my belief on readers here, especially when many young (and naturally hormonal) Singaporeans engage in sex, leading to the increase in contraction of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). The most common STIs include gonorrhoea, non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU) and syphilis.
For youths in their teens, the rate of STI notification has more than doubled from 61 per 100,000 population in 2000 to 133 in 2008, as quoted from Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a Straits Times article this Wednesday (attached below). This is extremely worrying, as it appears that our youths are either unaware of the threats of STIs or that they are unconcerned about getting infected. Also, youths are not only vulnerable to STIs in general, but especially to HIV as well.
As Mr Khaw stated in the article, there has been several measures taken by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to raise awareness of STIs and to encourage parents and schools to take a more active stance in discussing sexuality-related issues with youths. However, the effectiveness of such measures depend on how receptive youths are to these advice, and also how willing parents are in accepting that their children may be sexually active and that it is time to speak to them about safe sex rather than abstinence.
Studies have shown that young people often turn to their peers instead of adults to discuss sexuality issues, and thus it is crucial that youths are informed about STIs and HIV so that they can also provide useful advice and guidance to their fellow peers.
In addition, youths often fall prey to the influence of the media. Many media messages distort our values and sense of reality and logic. The media glamorizes sex, and thus educating young people in media literacy is also imperative. Being constantly surrounded by the various forms of media, teenagers need to be able to discern for themselves the positive and negative sexual messages on TV or online to make informed choices.
Ultimately, to slow down the rate of STI transmission, we all need to take the first step. Youths need role models, not empty vessels.
Attached below is the article from The Straits Times, 13 January 2010: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_476765.html