Many students particularly teenagers have invested many hours studying, some of this time is done in study groups in an effort to be successful in their examinations. Numerous parents and guardians have also invested heavily in their child’s or children welfare, whether it’s in the form of tuition or school fees, lunch money, examination fees, food, shelter and clothing. Like any relationship trust and communication are very important, the parent child relationship is no different.
Adolescence is that phase of life between childhood and adulthood. It is usually characterized by a period of exploitation and opportunity. For many teenagers this is a most appropriate time to deceive their parents about the need to study. Most of us have been there? Have you ever told your parent a fib? If you are honest you would have answered ‘Yes’. Many parents have a soft heart once their child comes to them with a story about studying whether at a public place such as the library, Devon House or Hope Gardens or in a private space and therefore will gladly give their consent. However, parents and guardians must be aware that in some instances these group study sessions are not what they appear to be.
Group sex has become very popular not only in the United States of America but also here in Jamaica. An alarmingly number of teenagers are indulging and have been caught up in group sex. According to The Jamaica Reproductive Health Survey the average age for a male to have his first sexual experience is 12. 4 years and for girls it is 14.7 years. This is indeed very frightening and troubling given the implications which may result from early sexual initiation. The earlier the teenager starts having sex, the less likely they are to use contraceptives. Without the use of contraceptives pregnancies many occur, so too HIV/AIDS transmission and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STI,s). The teenage girl may be forced with a situation of having an abortion done in order to continue her studies. The teenage boy obviously not equipped to take on the responsibilities of fatherhood, maybe forced to drop out of school in search of a job to care for his child or he may just choose to continue with his studies. While we do not have the data in Jamaica to clearly state to what extent group sex impacts our teenage population, data from the USA is available. In a recent study of sexual activity in teens by the Boston University School of Public Health, researchers found that as many as one in 13 teenage girls surveyed said they had participated in group sex. According to the same research 7.3 percent of teens age 14 to 20 years have had multi-person sex (MPS), ranging from gang rape to sex parties and 45 percent of teens reported that at least one person in the group did not use a condom. The issues of rape and sexual violence are also raised in a context of group sex parties, since it is very unlikely that the victim would give consent to multiple individuals having yes with her. Parents and guardians need to inform their teenagers of the many ills and dangers which are always present in the society. Teenagers too must be sensible and be careful with whom they go out with and where, as well as they must take responsibility for their safety and be prepared to face the consequences of sexual irresponsibility.
It is clear that parents and guardians need to pay more attention to their teens. Parents you need to know where your child is going to study. Find out who are the other teens in the study group. Know your child’s friends, as well as the parents of the friends of your child. Parents need to invest the time to know all this before they give consent for any group study. Parents should develop and sustain an open line of communication with their child so that he or she will feel comfortable enough to tell you what is happening in their life. Parents talk to your child about sex, if you don’t someone else will. The Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees each child the right to privacy, however, if your child tells you he or she is going to study and a quick search of his/her bag reveals no books, and your gut feeling tells you something is wrong, then something is probably wrong. Parents don’t allow the right to privacy to prevent you from doing what you must.
The Boston University School research also revealed that a significant number of the teens reported alcohol use at these group sex encounters. We all know that alcohol impairs one’s judgment; we therefore can make an association with alcohol consumption and the low contraceptive usage at these group sex parties. In many societies including the Jamaica society alcohol is not viewed in the same category as hard drugs, such as, cocaine. It is not very easy for a teen in Jamaica to gain access to alcohol; we clearly need to revisit how we can make it more difficult for our teens to gain access to alcohol. More public service announcements are needed about the negative implications of alcohol drinking. To some extent alcohol consumption is a marker from childhood to adulthood for many males and indeed females.
Much more investigation is needed into the sub-group of Multi- Person Sex (MPS). We need to know among other things, who are the teenagers that are most likely to be in this group? Are males more at risk of being involved in this sub group than females? We need to educate our children from as early as primary school about issues of this nature and in so doing prepare them for all eventualities.
As we move towards protecting our children this should serve as a warning to some parents/guardians, and a reminder for others that the next time your child/ward comes asking for your consent to attend a group study session. Teenagers will always seek out and exploit parents regarding opportunities to have sex among other things; however, parents must be more vigilant regarding their children welfare. As we approach the summer holidays also, there is likely to be an increase in parties which in many instances will be unsupervised. Do your background checks parents before answering in the affirmative since your child next group study session might well be a group sex session.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.