SEXUAL HEALTH PROMOTION IN THE SCHOOL AGE POPULATION
SEXUAL HEALTH PROMOTION IN THE SCHOOL AGE POPULATION
Sexual health promotion is the course of allowing the youth in school to enhance their power and develop their sexual wellbeing. This is to acquire a condition of total physical, mental and social wellbeing, and to be able to discover and appreciate ambitions, to gratify wants and to transform or adapt to their upbringing. School health promotion has attracted a wide range of study and training over the last 50 years parallel to health promotion in different backgrounds. It is a multidimensional subject that involves teaching knowledge and skills in the classroom, modifying the public and physical settings of the school and developing connections with the broader society. This combination seeks to establish the value of health promotion in schools and the contribution of the different stakeholders both in the government and the society towards achieving a sustainable and informed future generation. The names and places mentioned in this paper may not refer to anyone whatsoever.
Sexual health promotion has the benefit of concern for health and equity, accountability for health impact and putting health as a priority for policy makers in all the sectors. The values of a healthy location focus on creating an accommodating environment by addressing organizational ethnicity, composition, roles and values. It also ensures comprehension and devotion to sexual health is incorporated into daily actions and practices (Armitage 2006). The latest developments concerning sexual health in the past twenty years include the various aspects of human sexuality, materialization of the HIV epidemic and increased consciousness of other sexually transmitted infections, the concepts of masculinity and femininity and the consolidation of reproductive health (WHO-2011).
Other developments concerns identification of sexual brutality against children, women and sexual minorities as a grave health public subject, sexual rights as human rights, protection of minorities privileges and improvement of efficient and sound medication to transform the functioning of sexual system of individuals (Krueger et al 2002). Effective communication therefore needs to be conducted to ensure a sound understanding of the subject of sexual health to promote the ethical concerns in the modern society. The youth will be in a position to analyze and understand these developments to prevent chaos in the community.
Sexual Health concerns and Problems
In life situations there exist sexual health concerns and problems related to sexuality which calls for intervention due to their effect on wellbeing and value of life. These problems and apprehensions range from those conceived as way of life to the ones perceived as risks to life. They therefore need all stakeholders of the community including the public health sector through intervention and necessary ample care (Corcoran, 2007). These issues are necessary to deal with and find resolutions for because they not only demoralize the general health of the persons or the society but also because they might gesture other health nuisance.
Crooks (2010) describes sexuality as the main aspect of being human which comprise of sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, eroticism, love, emotions and reproduction. It is normally shown in thinking, desires, dreams, beliefs, attitudes, principles, actions, roles and affiliations. Sexuality comes about due to psychological factors, social factors, and biological factors, cultural, spiritual and moral factors. The sexuality usually differ across time depending on the basic needs satisfactions such as the longing for contact, love, affiliation, enjoyment and compassion. As the children grow up into adolescence and adulthood their bodily anatomy develops and they begin to experience different changes on their body and feelings. They want to be loved by either opposite sex or the same sex depending on their sexual orientation. They begin to desire the tenderness and pleasure but without proper guidance by administrators, teachers and parents they might end up making decisions that may haunt them in life. Through the school programmes and curriculum, they will learn and adapt to various lifestyles that might suite their tastes and preferences according to how they assimilate the information (Crooks 2010)
Reproductive Sexual Health
Reproductive sexual health concerns with three interrelated fields which comprise of the universal rights, empowering women and provision of health services. The reproductive sexual health tries to address the main causes of gender inequality and inequity in empowering women. It also takes to pinpoint the use and access of quality reproductive sexual health services and issues of ill-health and probable death in reproductive subject. In the schools’ curriculum this is a main area of study which seeks to inform the youth about the strategic issues in reproductive sexual health. It enables the youth to appreciate their reproductive system and empower them with the necessary mechanisms to manage the challenges that accompanies the subject (Corcoran, 2011)
The sexual health apprehensions affect different sectors of human actions at personal level and societal level. For instance, the worldwide spread of HIV/AIDS through vulnerable sexual interaction has led to over 35 million people being infected and 19 million people dying worldwide since the inception of the pandemic (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2006). The Pan American Health organization estimates that there are approximately 13 million children and youth orphaned due to HIV caused death of one or both of their parents and that 2.5 million people are currently infected with HIV in the American region. There is great public awareness of the extreme seriousness of sexually spread infectivity where one million people pass on from sexual tract illness.
Sexual violence against women, children and sexual minorities
Sexual violence is the abuse, brutality, assault, harassment and harm of women, children or the weaker sex like the lesbians and the homosexuals. The sexual violence cases emanate from use of illicit drugs, personality traits, attitudes and gender biasness and other mental disorders (Meyer 2000). Meyer (2000) observes that hormonal makeup of an individual can like brain injuries and abnormalities may lead to trauma and brutality in battering behaviour as well as impulsive acts of individuals. Besides, alcohol use normally amount to more rapes as it affects men’s perception of women’s sexual objective. The offenders are normally belligerent and the victims weaker in defending themselves and that supremacy and rage are more outstanding in rapists’ rationalization for sexual hostility than the libido. Most cases of sexual brutality take place as a result of miscommunication about sex and men’s presumption of traditional sex roles and adversarial attitudes. In the traditional roles women were viewed as the property hence by giving vows in marriage implied consenting to sexual relations therefore men were allowed to apply whatever power available to get sexual access to their spouses (Meyer 2000). Male chauvinism is also a contributing factor to rape and sexual violence where men are motivated to feel superior. They are expected to initiate intimacy in their interaction with women. These typically deny the presence of sexual violence, make excuses for the violence and reduce the graveness of its impact. Women are always depicted as more than sex objects a notion that is supported by the male dominated society.
Furthermore, children exposed to violence in the family are more likely to be engrossed in brutality relationships when they grow into adulthood. This is attributed to factors such as poor parenthood, poor supervision, abandonment, divorce, bodily abuse in the family settings. The children and the youth have a large access to media. The television and movies they watch are full of pornographic content. By exposure to these pictures the male youth are more likely to engage in sexual violence as their mind is usually distorted to an extent of lacking rational thinking about their actions. Last but not least learning institutions contribute to interactive sustenance of aggressive behaviour when they emphasize the roles of sex stereotypes and outlook that ignore the use of force. Sports and co-curricular participation may add to the menace of sexual violence. This is because the peers are more persuasive in moulding the behaviour of an individual than personality, family, spirituality or ethnicity (Meyer 2000)
Sexual rights as human rights
Human rights are those values which are wholly conceived as protecting the dignity of human beings in justice promotion, equality and wellbeing. Human rights supersede cultural principles and if any cultural practice undermines the human rights then it must be done a way with just like female genital mutilation. The human privileges view to health promotion has clearly been stated in the topic of reproductive health promotion. There are expert groups who actively support that international organizations like world health organization and other United Nations agencies advocate and support an agreement on the world association for worldwide human sexual rights. These rights include the right to sexual freedom, right to sexual body safety, right to sexual privacy and equity, right to pleasure to sex, emotions and emotional sexual expression, the right to sexual health care and many other sexual related rights (Gururaja 2000). A sexually healthy person has the following characteristics; values one’s anatomy, looks for more facts about reproduction as required, socializes with all genders in polite and correct manner, respects one’s sexual orientation, expresses love and intimacy in a good way and avoids manipulative interactions, makes informed choices about options in a family setting and way of life, takes full responsibility of one’s actions and practices sound judgements.
Drug and substance abuse
Drug and substance abuse is the misuse of prescribed medication or use of the illegal substances such as cocaine, bhang and other types of narcotics. Drug and substance abuse is growing at an alarming rate among the youth all over the world. Most individuals have the information about the side effects of the drugs and substances they use but due to ignorance they still press on with the behaviour. Most of the abusers finally develops a craving for the drugs which affects their health immensely. Some drugs are injected; others are inhaled while others are swallowed as tablets. Most of the injectables contribute highly to the HIV pandemic. The predominance of HIV spread among the drug users who injects has reached between 60 to 90% within a period 6 months to a year since it the first case appeared according to the World Health Organization (2007). Most drug users share the injections hence increasing the risk of contracting HIV when sharing with infected persons. Moreover, most alcohol abusers may involve themselves in irresponsible and unprotected sexual intercourse increasing their vulnerability to infection of sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Some may develop behaviours that may lead to sexual violence as a result of excessive use of the drugs as mentioned earlier. The drugs abused disorient their mind and rational thinking exposing them to adverse brutality in the societal environment. Young people use drugs due to the following reasons;
- Influence of the commercials and adverts especially alcohol and tobacco
- Pressure from role models for example a singer or an actor who consumes alcohol
- It may due to curiosity hence they want to try it out
- To feel relaxed
- To enjoy themselves
- To prevent physical or psychological issues
- To make one energetic or stimulate ones libido
- To stimulates one’s muscles and physical power
- To stay a wake
However, drugs normally comes with consequences; they make an individual become more dependant on the drug, some may lead to loss of jobs or education interference, troubles with the law enforcement agencies due to illegal drug consumption, loss of societal image, friends and families. Some drugs may lead to loss of good health, depression and suicidal tendencies while others may lead to increased risk of HIV infection especially the injectables. Similarly some drugs will lead haphazard sexual activities for example having sex for money to buy the drugs. Some drugs like cocaine and ecstasy make sex better and heighten the emotions (WHO 2011).
Most young women lack the information about use of birth control drugs worldwide. It is for this fact that the most abused drug is the emergence pills. The young girls are normally worried of pregnancy less than other effects of unprotected sex like sexually transmitted infections and complications. As such they use the emergency pills at an alarming rate after nights out with their friends. Most of these young ladies do this without neither the consent nor the knowledge of their guardians. This behaviour may lead transmission of sexually transmitted infections and HIV, some of the drugs may lead to distortion of their body anatomy. The choices they make may not be informed as such without proper guidance and intervention programs both at school and from their guardians (WHO Geneva 2011).
Health communication strategies
There are various health communications programmes which appreciate the principle of using particular strategies for communicating and promoting health and avoidance of illness. Sound strategies merge hypothesis, structure and views from behavioural discipline, messaging, social marketing and education on health related subject (Evans, Uhrig, Davis, McCormack, 2009). The messaging takes different outline, both in writing and by word of mouth. Important to any sound health messaging attempt is planning strategically. Strategic planning involves; establishing the health problem and determining if the intervention will include communication, knowing the audience of the communication scheme and finding the best channel to get to them, building up and investigating the concepts, messages and the materials with agents of the target group; executing the program basing on the investigations and finally assessing how efficient the messaging reached the targeted audience to amend the program where necessary.
Hubley, Copeman, (2008) identifies the best methods of reaching out to the audience targeted; that media awareness usually educates the youth in particular to evaluate messages in media, to establish the motives of the sponsor, and also how to create communication intended to influence the opinion of the audience. Besides, advocacy for media by way of manipulating the selection of subjects by the mass media forming the discussions on these subjects, tries to modify the public and political setting in which choices on health and health sources are created. Furthermore, advertising in the media or in the social spaces helps improve on the alertness of and sustenance for behaviour or a product. This can be done through entertainment education commonly known as edutainment which seeks to incorporate messages that promote health and anecdotes into entertainment and information programs. Messages that that are counter health promotion are eventually done away with hence developing healthy living through the entertainment programs. In addition, individuals and behaviour change communication groups persuades, advise and equips the audience with the necessary expertise to support good health behaviours (Nadioo, & Wills, 2009)
Rice, Atkins, (2001), observes that even with scarce resources there are still lee ways to establish and execute health communications programs. This can be done through partnering where resources will be accumulated to add to the available funds. By partnering ideas are shared and implemented in the best way possible to achieve tremendous outcome. Besides, the activities can be carried out using the little available resources in small scale magnitude until the programs are fully implemented. Using volunteer help from specialists in the health communications who may give professional advice, or using graduate students or retired specialists may be of great boost to the program. Similarly searching for facts and different methodologies that have tackled similar programs helps to a great extent reduce the costs of developing the programs.
Internet and new technologies
Eastin (2001) research reveals that internet has been discovered to be the most used source of information for most American youth. It has free and unregulated information flow and those who provide the information creates a variety of risks to the persons who looks for the information online. Sometimes the users are normally unaware of the providers of the information, the regulators and accuracy of the information. As the internet users’ increase and eventually the population in general the usage of medical information becomes more critical. The information posted on internet may however lack an explicit explanation of health related facts. It is therefore important for the community at large to have the facts at hand about the health issues before using the internet. Moreover, the internet can be used as an avenue to pass health messages. By use of social networks in an interesting and most attractive way the internet users who happen to be mostly the youth will acquire the information and use it in making informed choices in life (Hesse, Nelson, Kreps, Croyle, Arora, Rimer, 2005). Only trusted sources should be used to access the solutions on health problems.
The effects of school based interventions on Health Promotion
Wilson, Lipsey, Derzon, (2003) evaluates some of the programs aimed at reducing the aggressive behaviour of the youth. These include: prevention of abuse and neglect through social support, visiting the youth at school. This reduces associated impact of hospitalization of the child injuries to the child and emergency visits at the departments. Other effective schemes involve partnering the family with nursing which reduces injuries to a greater extent. Training programs for parents displays positive parenting techniques which equips the parents with the techniques of lowering the abusive rates for the children. Furthermore, parents can attend abusive head trauma education programs to be in a position to deal with the shaken impact syndrome. Besides enhancing paediatric care for families which are at risk promotes the abilities of the physicians to diagnose and assist families lower the risk of child abuse. Through the schools the education programs can reduce the frequency of child sexual abuse to develop the child’s knowledge and protective behaviours thereby promoting healthy living. Similarly through therapeutic counselling interventions on insensitive parenting and child attachment insecurity will be eliminated at a large extent (Scheckner, et al, 2002. There are also global interventions such as placing maltreated children in foster care helps to benefit the child’s future leading to an improved end results (Thorogood, Coombes, 2006). The duo also suggests according to their research that kinship care can at times be effective when the next of kin left in charge of the child carries his/her duties without biasness.
Intervention on Drug and substance abuse
There is no single method of treatment of drug addicts. The treatment takes various dimensional concepts which require different stakeholders to corporate in stemming this menace. The treatment should be readily available and must be evaluated from time to time. The needs and wants of the addict must be modified since they may keep on changing from time to time. The process of effective treatment requires an adequate time period for the addict to completely recover. Detoxification of the addict normally does little to the patient and it is normally done when the person is ready to be treated (Armitage 2004). Counselling of the addict is necessary especially to deal with HIV related infections and other sexually transmitted infections in order to transform the behaviour of the individual. Although treatment might consume a lot of time it will require a multiple approach to the full recovery (Armitage, 2007b)
Availing of informational programs to the community about the effect of these drugs is also another prevention strategy. As they say ‘prevention is better than cure’ preventing the problem of drug abuse will be a huge stepping stone in combating the drug abuse menace. Lynach, Schofield, Fisher, (2011) talks of removing the barriers to safer injections inclusive of laws and policy practices which can allow over the counter sale of injections to avoid sharing and new infection of HIV. This may also involve targeting certain groups under specific conditions to counsel and test HIV among the injectables drug Users. This will boost the intervention program among the non governmental organization towards achieving their objectives. Some groups may be highly stigmatized because of their illegal behaviour of using illicit drugs for example commercial sex workers and the addicts. This type of group’s type of intervention strategies may not be the same as the starters. In this category of people harm reduction may be efficient where supply suppression is encouraged through law enforcement agencies. The addicts will come out of their hidings to the medical centres due to withdrawal syndromes for more help or treatment. Most of them might have been in denial about their abuse of drugs but eventually due to lack of supply of the substance, they come out to get treatment.
This is presently a widely researched topic in the whole universe. Its existence and awareness has been due to the fact the infection is not currently curable. There are many prevention programs by many international organizations which aim at reducing the prevalence rates. The preventions range from vaccines to infection which is the latest development, proper balanced diet, (Armitage 2002, 2004, 2006), mass media campaign against unprotected sexual intercourse with unknown partner whose status is questionable to programs caring for the infected and the affected. The prevalence rate is increasing at an alarming rate corresponding to the number of deaths in the community. Peer education has proved to be more efficient in combating the pandemic and use of non-governmental organization that get funding from the international organization like the World Health Organization. Other related causes like drug abuse which either encourage irresponsible sexual intercourse or through injections sharing have agencies dealing with them collaboratively to reduce the rate of spread of HIV/AIDS. Moreover, through the school curriculum, young adults are sensitized on the dangers of the epidemic to enable them grow into responsible adults who can make responsible decisions and choices in sexual reproductive health (Albarracin, Johnson, Fishbein, Muellerleile, 2001)
It is important for government departments to collaborate towards achieving universal sexual health for all through sensitising the community by use of mass media on their sexual rights and privileges. Government agencies should find a way of regulating what is posted on internet about the sexual health for use by the general public. This content must be managed and regulated to avoid misleading the youth about their sexuality. Besides, media owners should not be profit minded but rather they should consider the public’s welfare. Manufacture of pornographic movies should be regulated to avoid polluting the minds of the public with dirty pictures. An avenue for effective messaging (Wells, Barlow, Stewart, 2003,) through school’s curriculum programs need to be created and the best method of delivering the facts established to promote healthy sexual relations. Through sexual reproductive health the adolescence will be informed on the different challenges poised by the changes in their body structure which will equip them with the necessary intervention skills. Moreover, the government law enforcement agencies should be alert and highly responsive to cases of drug trafficking and drug abuse. They should suppress the supply of these illicit drugs to enable the lobby interest groups work effectively in managing the impact of drug abuse. Sexual violence perpetrators must be severely dealt with by law enforcement agencies at all cost to reduce recurrence of the same behaviour. Mytton J et al, (2002), protecting children’s rights should be strongly supported by all members of the community to prevent them from growing into aggressive adults due to exposure to violence.
Sexual health promotion in schools is a very critical issue which requires worldwide interventions. The subject should be world widely incorporated in the syllabus from the lower grade to higher institute of learning. It is an issue that affects everyone in the society. It is for the interest of every member of the society to be responsible of their actions both at individual and community level. All the recommendations mentioned should be critically analyzed and implemented to ensure a healthy living and just society. The issues must be addressed from childhood to adulthood until one can make responsible choices in life.
It is evident that the most area of concern surrounds the subject of drug and substance abuse and sexuality. All the cases of ill-health revolve around abuse of drugs which impairs individuals’ choices in life and health of the person. Those drugs do contribute to sexually transmitted infections and HIV, they do influence one’s sexual orientation and they do affect the sexual health promotion strategies whether directly or indirectly. It therefore with deep concern that strategic planning, partnering by different stakeholders and organizations and implementation of various programs that aim at reducing the drug abuse rates all over the world.
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