Gender activists have called on parents and caregivers to be bold and proactive to educate their children and wards on gender and adolescent reproductive health issues.
They said it behoves on parents and caregivers to educate children on physical and psychological changes in their bodies to help them better understand the changes as they grow into adolescents.
Madam Joyce Portia Denu, an Assistant Head at Apam Senior High School gave the advice at a workshop for over 50 parents of the ‘Community Parents Network Advocacy Group’ (COPNCY) at Ajumako.
The two-day engagement was aimed at schooling parents on good parenting, Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (ASHR), prevention, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and adolescent pregnancies.
The dialogue also deliberated on best ways of handling SGBV case and provided a platform for the participants to examine challenges and the way forward in improving the justice system in order to have all SGBV cases prosecuted.
It was organized by the Central Region Office of the Department of Gender, supported by the Regional Coordinating Council with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Canadian Government.
It was on the theme, “connecting adolescent pregnancy and sexual abuse in the wake of Covid-19: The role of parents.”
Madam Denu said children under-go rapid physical, cognitive, emotional, sexual and psychological changes that could overwhelm them and therefore needed education and moral support from parents and other stakeholders.
She said children have the capacity to develop long-lasting, mutual, and healthy relationships if given the foundations for this development, including trust, positive past experiences, and an understanding of love.
She urged parents and caregivers to ensure that children were healthy and safe; equip them with the skills and resources to succeed as adults; and transmit basic cultural values to them.
Shouting and the use of foul words against children at the least provocation will scare and prevent them from discussing their problems with their parents and they will eventually fall on their peers for advice, she cautioned.
Rather, they must shower their children with love, acceptance, appreciation, encouragement, and guidance adding that, “Children are expected to take care of the older ones, but when parents fail to build that good rapport that expectation might not be met.”
“The adolescent need emotional, socio-economic support, controlled freedom, need for self-expression and affection or love as the most basic psychological needs of every child,” she said.
The Gender Activist asked parents to provide the most intimate context for the nurturing and protection of children as they develop their personalities and identities and mature physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially.
Dr Kobina Essiah-Donkor, a Lecturer at the Department of Population and Health at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), called on parents, especially mothers, to build good relationship with their children by being patient and accommodating.
To achieve this, she said, parents must develop age-appropriate messages with focus on maturity, body mapping tools, context-specific and culturally sensitive to gender.
Mrs Thywill Eyra Kpe, the Central Regional Director of the Department of Gender, hailed the participants for volunteering their services to embolden them to lead a fearless campaign to drastically reduce pervasive social issues of SGBV, especially against women and children.
She said SGBV had been perpetuated in many communities because victims and perpetrators had not been empowered enough to deal with the issue resolutely and noted that education on the subject was not targeted at breaking families but to train people while empowering victims to make informed decisions about what was happening to them.
Among others, she mentioned ignorance of the law, obnoxious cultures, customs and norms as key factors militating against combating the practice and expressed optimism that the trainees would be good advocates of gender-based violence to help many victims overcome those issues in their communities.