Even though sex is natural that everyone must encounter, allowing the children to learn by themselves may, of course, lead to experiments to respond to their curiosity. Many adolescents become parents at a young age just because they want to try to have sexual activity without prior knowledge or immunity.

UNFPA Thailand Country Office presses priority on youth leadership in demanding their sexual and reproductive health and rights to be protected and their accessibility to such services with special focus on the problem of teenage pregnancy. In 2014, UNFPA has awarded the grants to 15 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

The purpose of these grants is for capacity development activities that will enable the CSOs to function as the supporter of future youth-led initiatives on the prevention of teenage pregnancy and/or the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.

มูลนิธิเพื่อการพัฒนาเด็ก 3

Workmate Club Project

by Sujinda Chanawong
Workmate Club Project,
The Foundation for Child Development (FCD)

“Please take care of my baby for me, teacher….,”

called out a crystal clear voice with a Cambodian accent to the staff at the Foundation to help take care of her sleeping child before she ran out to join her friends participating in the activities.

A 17-year-old Cambodian girl brought her little baby in his learning-to-crawl months to attend the camp with her friends at Santikam Center. The Foundation for Child Development arranged this camp to promote life skills for migrant child labors and children at risk of becoming workers in Samut Prakan Province. This young girl was so interested in and had fun with the activities although both hands were still holding the baby. Only until the baby fell asleep she could then have the opportunity to fully participate.

The image of this Cambodian girl and her baby remains in the memory of the author although two years have passed. It called a sense of compassion and sympathy every time she ran to breastfeed a crying baby although she was having fun in the activities with friends. Even at night when the others were in bed, she continued to complete assignments to keep up with friends until late. It seemed as if she was longing for her childhood moment that was snatched from her sooner than the others. On the days when she was among friends, not the husband, she tried to fully participate and enjoy the happy moment of such a young age. Her story is another clear example of the unintended pregnancy issue or teenage mothers. It provokes us to think about the why and how along with the many other questions to arise.

From our experience here at FCD in addressing this issue for a long time, one of the many reasons may be due to the preteens’ lack of knowledge and skills in preparing to cope with various situations that will plunge into their lives during their transition into adolescence. The author went into the repository in the fish pier community of Tai Ban Sub-district, Samut Prakarn Province, where Burmese Karen workers have been living together for decades building up a community, and where FCD has been working closely with the volunteer leaders in taking care of themselves in the community. On that day, the leaders told us about the abortion there that previously, there were two girls having obstetrical hemorrhage from incomplete abortion by illegal clinics. They did it because they were not ready as they were too young to have a healthy baby. They also did not want to quit the job to raise the baby. The Cambodia side is not different. Some have children and cannot afford to raise them so they take the baby to sit begging money on the overpass. Some are arrested and separated from their children. Some are deported or become homeless.

When looking at the parents, it is found that most of them do not dare to talk about sex or love topics with their children. They think that this is shameful and that it is personal. Everyone should learn this by themselves. This can be seen from the talk with Burmese Karen parents at the fish pier community, at first there were several people but when asked about sexuality they gradually left the group. The volunteer interpreter told us that Burmese will not talk about sex to their children or anybody as the topic is shameful. So, they will leave it to their children to learn for themselves like many Burmese parents have mentioned very often, “they’ll get it when they grow up.” It is the same case for the majority of Cambodian mothers. They will not talk about sex with their children although they might preach that girls should reserve themselves, “you’re a young woman now not a girl anymore. You can’t just hang around with young men like before.” For the sons, parents admit that talking to them is even harder because their emotions are more aggressive than daughters’. Some even run away from home because they cannot stand the parents’ teaching. Yet, we cannot really say that it is those young men’s fault to run away from home. We have to rather look back at the parents and how they communicate with adolescents who are at the juncture of life.

Parents’ lack of understanding about their adolescent children is another major concern. They should be enhanced to have the courage to communicate the right information with their children. In addition, the idea that “they’ll get it when they grow up” that it is unnecessary to teach or explain is a rather risky concept.

Even though sex is natural that everyone must encounter, allowing the children to learn by themselves may, of course, lead to experiments to respond to their curiosity. Many adolescents become parents at a young age just because they want to try to have sexual activity without prior knowledge or immunity.

Like our Cambodian girl at the beginning, she has to leave her childhood automatically simply because she has a child and a husband. Therefore, what advocates should do next is the readjustment of the attitudes of the parents about the importance of adolescent sexuality, protecting their children appropriately, teaching children about self-esteem, and preparing their children to handle with changes in becoming an adolescent, in order that their children will not become mothers and fathers when they are not physically, mentally, and socioeconomically ready for that.



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