Your kids and sex, booze, drugs

By admin
07 May 2010

Parents don’t like to admit their children smoke or have had sex. Now it has been proven most South African kids are sexually active in Grade 11, 20 per cent are smokers in their first four years of high school and nearly 25 per cent could suffer from depression.

These statistics are the result of a countrywide survey of 10 270 schoolchildren from Grade 8 to Grade 11 done by the Medical Research Council (MRC) for its 2008 youth risk report.

The survey was done among children in 23 divergent schools in all provinces and experts confirm the results line up with what they see every day in practice.

“Children are experimenting at an ever younger age and this applies across race boundaries and differences in background and education,” Pretoria child psychologist Truida Botha says.

The best way to prevent your kids becoming part of the statistics is to win their trust from an early age so they will talk openly to you when these temptations come, Cape Town psychologist Frederick van Wyk says.

Botha and Van Wyk explain how parents can broach difficult subjects with their young kids.

SEX The survey found 12,6 per cent of teenagers had had sex before the age of 14 and more than 40 per cent of them had had more than one sex partner.

Sex education should start very early. “Children as young as three should know their bodies are special and that no one should be allowed to touch their private parts,” Van Wyk says.

SMOKING Parents who don’t smoke have an advantage over those who do, Van Wyk says. “The example you set speaks louder than words.”

The survey found nearly seven per cent of the children had smoked for the first time before the age of 10. That’s why kids should understand the danger of smoking before going to primary school, Van Wyk says.

ALCOHOL Nearly 50 per cent of those surveyed had drunk alcohol and 28,5 per cent had drunk to excess in the month they were questioned. “Children can be taught the dangers of drinking alcohol as early as the age of four,” Botha says.

DRUGS Use the word “drugs” from an early age, Van Wyk says. “Children know big words. You can talk about types of drugs and medicines when they’re nine or 10 but by that age they should already have heard you talk about them. If they don’t hear about drugs from you they’ll hear about them from their friends.”

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