Social Protection tackles Secondary Schools to reduce occurrences of school aged sexual activity

The Ministry of Social Protection, Probation and Social Services Department has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness on the issue of teenage pregnancy and other related issues through the airing of a  short film at Secondary Schools in Guyana.

“Hush” is the story of a school aged girl who comes from a middle income single parent household and is under the illusion of falling in love and having a good time. Her short period of “just having fun” comes crashing into turmoil faster than she thought it ever would, when she is faced with the challenge of teenage pregnancy, her boyfriend not wanting a child and abandoning her, depression and the choice of abortion; all while she is just about to write her CXC examinations. She has made some bad turns in life, and is now faced with a momentous choice which could either take her off course or put her life back on track.

Ms. Debra Joseph, Senior Probation and Social Services Officer.

This is the harsh reality of many young girls; a reality which the Ministry of Social Protection is currently highlighting Secondary school students. The aim is to promote positive and responsible choices among children still attending secondary school.

It is one of the Ministry’s more proactive steps in its approach in dealing with the issue of teenaged sexual activity; specifically focusing on those who are still in the schooling system.

In a brief introduction Ms. Debra Joseph, Senior Probation and Social Services Officer, told the children “we want to help you make better choices, there is a time and a place for everything”. She encouraged the children to be patient stating “education helps to alleviate poverty; stay focused and when the right time comes everything will fall into place”.

Students from Forms 1 and 2 of the North Georgetown Secondary School were the first batch of students to benefit from the outreach as the students came together in the auditorium to view the Caribbean film.

Willa Batson, Headmistress of the North Georgetown Secondary School, said “in dealing with the issue of school aged children being involved in sexual activity what you find is that even if you are able to control it in the school environs, it has evolved to social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook where the children are exchanging sexual content and making plans”. Ms. Batson also spoke about the issue of cyber bullying. “Their access to the internet and the lack of supervision at home is another facet of the problem, it is a multifaceted issue and we need the help of the parents in dealing with it” Ms. Batson indicated.

The Headmistress further stated that the school does enjoy the service of the Welfare Department of the Ministry of Education to professionally deal with issues and to counsel children. She indicated her desire for there to be a permanent social worker on school grounds to immediately deal with instances of Welfare matters.

When the students were asked what they learnt at the end of the session some responded by saying: “Miss I learnt that you shouldn’t have a boyfriend at an early age” and “you should abstain from sex and never lie to your parents”.

The Ministry of Social Protection, Probation and Social Services Department, intends to continue this airing and interactive session with schools within the Georgetown area to further raise awareness on the issue of school aged sexual activity and teenage pregnancy in an effort to reduce these occurrences.