Handling teenage sexuality with maturity
Imagine giving a loaded machine gun to a 14-year-old who has never seen a gun before (please be reminded of the scene of the two Moroccan boys who were given a rifle by their father from the movie ‘Babel’) - and you have dead bodies. Now, when teenagers hit puberty - the hormonal imbalances is akin to a loaded machine gun. Not being taught how to handle their bodies and sexuality in the most efficient manner will culminate to devastating effects. I need not spell out these effects, as it is a glaring and almost garish social phenomenon that is rudely appearing in our society over again at rapid frequency.
We need to educate our children about their bodies and sexual growth and responsibility with the utmost care, kindness and understanding because the natural biological process is not their fault or to a lesser extent, a sin. The inclinations that they feel and the desires that grip them - is a natural order of life and this issue needs to be addressed with maturity. Do we go screaming at a butterfly for emerging from its pupa just because we are not ready to face the fact that our children are growing into beautiful young adults? Is it necessary to threaten, scare and humiliate them for a process they cannot avoid - no matter how hard they tried?
I remember clearly once, seeing a teacher yell and scream and publicly humiliate a teenage couple who were sitting in a lobby because the boy had his arms around the girl’s shoulder. For many months, I was deeply infuriated by this event - as I do not think that they deserved to be disgraced in such a vicious manner. I went up to them and had a short chat with them (in private) - just to explain the reason for what they went through but I could see that the shame they felt was so great that their eyes were completely blinded by tears and embarrassment.
They could not hear me. I remember another incident where two students were found in an empty classroom together. Again they were yelled at and humiliated and such vile and filthy things were said to them - and one of the staff grabbed the girl by her arm and yanked her out of the room when the boy ran for his life to look for me - to rescue them.
These incidents break my heart every time I think about it. How are we going to produce a civilised nation - if we behave in the most uncivilized manner concerning the most basic of human evolution? Half of the time - these teenagers are so lost and confused - they have absolutely no idea what is happening to their emotions and bodies.
Imagine this - You’re a human being and one day you wake up in a body of a dinosaur. You have no clue what to do with the extra size, power or energy that you have - and the worst part of it all is - you did not ask for this to happen to you - it just did. And you get beaten and scolded and treated like trash and called names and humiliated for a process you have absolutely no control over.
Teachers, I beseech you to please educate yourselves on teenage sexuality and become an expert at understanding the processes that they go through. You should be able to inform them about the transformations that they will feel, the emotional roller coaster rides that they will experience, the strong bodily desires that they will face - and teach them how to handle it. Teach them how to embrace their sexual energy and identity - how to transfer excess energy to more productive pursuits that would build their personalities, characters, self-esteem and confidence.
We need to do this with care and respect for our students. We need to treat them with kindness and concern as this will help produce fully functional and productive human beings with healthy self-esteem - everything that we need to forge ahead as a cultured nation.
To educate ourselves and assist students in understanding their own biological and psychological growth and development is not going to be an easy exploit. Coming from a multi-racial and multi-religious culture, there are numerous sensitive areas when broaching the subject of sexual awareness. People are mostly worried that teenagers will take advantage of the knowledge and later misuse it. I seriously think that this is a myth. Teenagers are far more intelligent than we credit them for. We give them this knowledge for self-empowerment and self-protection.
We need to teach sexual awareness together with moral-awareness, meaning, and a child is made to understand that his body is a temple and needs to be treated with respect and so are the bodies of other people. They should be told that X-rated movies will contaminate their psyche and is not how and what relationships are all about. I tell my students: ‘You cannot be a gentleman with a lady if you have polluted your mind with crude images - that is not real life and that is not how real life works’.
Allow me to let the cat out of the bag. Within the first month of students coming into Form 4, I sit them down and explain to them the bodily changes that they will experience henceforth. I explain the psychological changes they will experience. I explain that - at this age because of the way their brains are wired temporarily - they will find their parents and teachers as the most delusional and obtuse people walking the planet. I explain that any small thing that happens to them will seem like an irredeemable catastrophe. I explain that they will have their hearts broken - but they will heal and become stronger. I tell them about the contraceptives that are available. I explain the different types of sexually transmissible diseases - most of which they never heard off and were horrified to learn about.
Finally, I do a little accounting for them. I show them the costing for having a baby at 17. I went out and got a price list for all baby items and showed them all the necessities a child requires how this not something they can afford at this stage. I also have a session on abortion. I show them exactly what is done to their bodies and tell them the long-term effects of abortion on both male and female counterparts. This is not a pretty story to tell - but they need to know that it’s not going to be an experience they are going to escape unscarred and this is why they need to learn to take good care of themselves.
We have a sweeping phenomenon in our culture - of sweeping everything under the carpet. No one wants to deal with delicate issues concerning teenagers. Serious ramifications will ensue when we keep on mishandling our student in the face of puberty. Maturity is acquired through knowledge and experience - we are teachers for a reason and this reason is so that people trust us to do the right thing and doing the right thing entails imparting knowledge impartially.