Sex education creates uneasiness in many Nigerian and African families. In fact, many parents are unable to refer to the sex organs of their children by name. Similarly, some African communities and groups have somehow, someway found numerous reasons to demonize the idea of offering sex education and orientation to teenagers and young adults. However, this has proven fatal.
When South Africa’s Department of Basic Education (DBE) developed its Comprehensive Sexuality Education program in close collaboration with UNESCO, it was met with some opposition and resistance regarding the implementation of the lesson content. This was despite the DBE spokesperson’s claims ”that there is an urgent need to implement this program, citing teenage pregnancies, HIV infections, and gender-based violence.” The spokesperson also said that parents are “failing dismally” when it comes to talking to their children about sex and that is “why we need to step up as a government.”
Study reveals a pattern of lack of awareness
New reports on the rising height of moral depravity of Nigerian teenagers and young adults have suggested that the ugly state of decadence lies in the lack of sexual awareness among these younger folks. While this needs urgent attention, it is imperative that
the urgency be considered in a structured sequence.
Results from a March 2020 study to investigate the level of awareness of sex education among secondary school adolescents in Niger state showed that it is important to impact knowledge about sex and sexuality to adolescents. “As many of the respondents show a positive attitude towards sex education (65%), they knew its effectiveness (54%) and consequence of risk behaviors (86%) but lacked appropriate knowledge (42%),” the study confirms. Based on these findings, it is therefore imperative that adolescents need more sex education at all levels with full parental participation.
According to Barker (2014), sexual immoralities are major health problems affecting mostly young people, not only in developing countries but also in developed countries. “Sexual immorality is a worldwide phenomenon and one of the crucial steps towards mitigating this societal ill is to understand the reasons behind it. Sometimes, sex becomes an uncontrollable pleasure to students, as such without self-discipline it will lead to rape and sexual misconduct, for these days’ boys and girls engage in pre-marital sex and sexual immoralities.
The Holy books clearly state that we should not commit fornication, adultery, or any other sexually immoral act. Even with all these warnings, boys and girls of this age are involved in all kinds of sexual immorality as simple as drinking water or eating food.”
Growing cases of sexual immorality among Nigerian teenagers and the need for sexual reorientation in Nigeria
There is a strong instance of recurrency in issues stemming from sexual immorality in Nigeria, especially among secondary school students, or otherwise high schoolers. In April 2022, a sex scandal bewildered the internet. It involved a group of teens from the Lekki, Lagos branch of Chrisland Schools. Who engaged in immoral acts unexpected of minors when they were attending the World School Games in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Ultimately, the teens ended up in a recorded sex situation which placed Nigerian society in a media over-spin.
More recently, on January 4, the sexual escapades of teenagers at a federal government secondary school were uncovered. It involved students of Federal Government College, Ijaniki, in Lagos—including male and female—who secured hotel accommodation for their two-some and three-some sex romps in a nearby hotel. “The students who are between ages 14 and 17,
had a successful escape from the school’s boarding house. And for several days were engaging in twosome and threesome marathon sex in the hotel,” one account alleged. Also, it was gathered that about seven males and five females among the students had been leaving the school unnoticed by the hostel and school authorities for three sessions, including the then just concluded first term in 2022.
In addition, the students reportedly consumed alcohol and drugs like codeine, molly, among others while engaging in sexual romps. The escapades of the student were brought to the school’s attention following the impregnation of one of the teenage girls by her colleague. Though the deed is done, the aftermath affects the whole community. A minor gets impregnated and brings a child she can not properly cater for to life, then reality creeps in.
There is an urgent need for sexual reorientation
Sexual reorientation is a step in the right direction to curb these persistent, sad events from repeating. Some people believe that sex education in some African communities is viewed as appropriate in marriage ceremonies. However, such beliefs have contributed to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) resistance in schools. Sex education, according to Dr. Ejike Oji, executive director of the Adolescent Health and Information Projects in Nigeria, is crucial in Nigeria. This is because “there is a high level of ignorance about sexual and reproductive health among young people in the country, and this is largely responsible for the high rate of teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and sexually transmitted infections.”
The solution, according to Oji, is sex education as it will “help young people make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. And this will go a long way in reducing the incidence of teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and sexually transmitted infections.”
While in most situations, sex education is limited to awareness of abstinence, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention. Denying children and young people access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information may not be the way forward. According to Bridges (2014), sex education is the provision of knowledge about body development, sex, sexuality, and relationships, as well as skill development, to assist young people in communicating about sex and making educated decisions about their sexual health.
Sexual reorientation is important in Nigeria, now more than ever, to ensure that teenagers and young adults learn to think about what is right and safe for them, and how to avoid coercion, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and early and unintended pregnancies.
Remember, we cannot protect our young if the topic of sex education remains taboo.