Teaching youth about sexuality

Children and youthGender equalityHealthSocial issues

Notes to broadcasters

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Problems with HIV and AIDS are closely related to many complex social and cultural issues. For example, in some cultures, it is considered “manly” to prove one’s virility by having sex with many partners. In some cultures, young girls have “sugar daddies” who trade sex for other kinds of favours. Widow inheritance may also have an impact on the spread of HIV and AIDS. The inability of women to successfully convince men to use condoms, the poverty that drives some women and men to the sex trade, and many other cultural, social and power relationships all have a profound impact on the spread and the infection rate of HIV and AIDS in our communities.

In this script, a woman living with HIV argues that not teaching young people about sex and sexuality may lead to the spread of HIV and have other negative consequences. Another interviewee talks about the need to teach youth about sex and sexuality in our schools, homes and religious institutions.

This is obviously a “hot” or controversial topic. What does your audience think about this? As a broadcaster, you can contribute to community solutions to these issues by broadcasting this script and other programs on this subject. You might want to follow the script with a phone-in program in which listeners express their opinions on the issues raised in the script.

This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on sexuality and youth in your own region. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.

If you choose to use this script as background material or as inspiration for creating your own program on youth and sexuality, you might consider the following questions:

  • Is there any teaching on sex and sexuality (either direct or indirect teaching) in religious institutions in your listening area? If so, what is the teaching? If not, why not? Should religious institutions teach youth about sex and sexuality?
  • Do schools teach youth about sex and sexuality? What do your listeners think is the proper role of schools around teaching sex and sexuality to youth?
  • At what age should youth be taught about sex and sexuality? What aspects of sex and sexuality should be discussed? What aspects should not be discussed?

Don’t forget to get the views of the youth themselves on these issues.

Average running time for this script is about 10-12 minutes.


Hello dear listener, my name is Dominic Mutua Maweu.

(Pause) Today I would like us to consider how knowing about sex and everything related to it can help our youth to be free of HIV. In my research, I was very lucky to meet a woman who is living with HIV and who has volunteered her time to train people to be “ambassadors of hope” to other people living with HIV in the villages. I want to tell you that every one of us can be an ambassador of hope. You just need to visit the nearest Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre and get tested for HIV to know your status. You cannot be an ambassador of hope unless you know where you stand with HIV.

One thing that this woman believes is that our youth should be told everything about sex. I would like her to introduce herself and give us a short testimony on how she found out that she was infected with HIV, how old she was, and what was going on in her life at the time. Welcome.

My name is Julia Wambui Maina. I come from the Nyeri District in the central province of Kenya.

In 1994, I met a young man and we had a very big and colourful wedding at church. Later we found out that I had a problem with conceiving a child. By 1997, my doctor advised me to go for a blood test because I was feeling weak. This is when I learned that I was living with HIV. I was about 24 years old. But I suspect that I might have been infected when I was about 20 to 21 years old. After that, things were not good with our relationship. Later we decided to go and get tested for HIV, the two of us. I tested positive but my husband was negative. From there things got worse, until later we parted.

So you parted ways because you were living with HIV?

Yes. You know, in that time we didn’t know that two people could stay together when one of them was living with HIV. He decided that he could not stay with me, so he left and went his own way.

Were you still trying to have a child when you separated?

No. I already had a daughter from when I was in school, although I had no boyfriend. It was just through childish games that I got the baby. So I stopped trying to have a child and decided to pay more attention to my health. Also, my religious faith did not allow me to be going with every man.

Having gone through all that, you are now giving your time to train others to be ambassadors of hope. How did that come about?

After I was tested and knew my status, I stayed for a long time in the denial stage. I was very shocked. I thought that my life had come to an end. I asked myself why I got the virus … but I could not find any reason. Later, when I realized that I was not dying as I had expected to, I decided to try to help my fellow young people and also my fellow women, and even my fellow citizens in our country. I want to make sure that young people do not continue getting infected.

Youth are at the most danger from HIV and AIDS. I am 32 years old now, but I got infected when I was young. The statistics we have say that most of those who are getting this virus are getting it when they are very young.

As a young person who has gone through those experiences that resulted in being a mother while still at school and being infected with HIV, what advice can you give to youth and to the community as a whole?

In my opinion, the teaching in our churches and mosques should dramatically change. We tell young people that sexual intercourse is sinful, but when they are with friends their own age, they are told that sex is the only way of proving that they are real boys or girls.

So, for us to prepare our youth psychologically, we must teach them about sex. We must mix our religious teachings with teachings about sexuality. Sexuality has everything to do with the feelings, attitude and values that are a part of sexual relations. If we fail to tell them all this and they learn about sex by themselves, they may learn the wrong way. It’s better for us to prepare them, so that when it is introduced to them, it will not be a new thing.

There are certain myths young people believe in when it comes to sex and sexuality issues. Sometimes young people believe that if a girl remains a virgin after she is 20 years old, she may have problems giving birth. Sometimes young people say that if you don’t have sex you will get a backache, or that, when one gets wet dreams, he is possessed by a demon. What are your comments on that?

Frankly, many things have been said about sexuality which are not true. The truth is that nothing will happen to a girl even if she stays without sex until she marries when she is over 35 years old. This is an argument that some people use who want to prove that sex is part of life whether you are married or not. But the truth is there are no problems even if a woman stays without sex until she is over 40 years.

In fact, many things have been said with the aim of misleading young people. We have to teach our youth about sexuality so that they can know their bodies and the changes that they will face when they are growing up. If we wait until they learn everything by themselves, they are going to learn it from these misleading “teachers.” If we teach young people about sexuality, in time we will have responsible youths in our society and in our country.

Thank you very much. (Pause) Dear listener, after hearing from this woman, I wanted to know more about this problem of youth and sexuality. So I spoke to another guest. Let’s hear from him now. (Pause) Welcome, and please start by telling us your name, then your profession.

Thanks. My name is Mr. Michael Mutune, a retired teacher.

How long have you been out of teaching and what are you doing now?

I have been out of teaching for two years now and have been a farmer, businessman and a church elder.

Do you think sex education is important in our learning institutions, homes and religious centres?

Well, this has been a complicated problem for a long time. Lack of sex education among youth has brought about a lot of damage in society.

It’s shocking to get these stories from the media of young girls dropping out of school due to pregnancies. The most recent shocking incident was reported this year, on June 10, when 18 pupils from Chepkurkur Primary School in Mount Elgon, in Bungoma County, were found to be pregnant and had dropped out of school.

In the same month in Cheplanget Primary in Buret, Kericho County, five girls between 11 and 16 years old dropped out of school for similar reasons.

This may not be seen as a big issue because now they can be allowed back to school after giving birth, but what about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections? And there are other birth-related complications, especially for young girls.

What do you think should be done to address this problem?

My advice is this: to address this problem, the nation should ensure girls have access to education as well as sexual and reproduction health information and services. People are now advising the government to include sexual and reproduction health education in primary school curricula since this has worked elsewhere.

I am also blaming the Teachers Service Commission for not acting strongly to curb teenage pregnancies caused by teachers and school staff.

Instead of giving severe punishment, they are simply transferring the teachers and staff involved. It is very disturbing that those caught impregnating underage girls have been left unpunished. This is a wake-up call to parents who have been accused of neglecting the responsibility of imparting the right values and morals to their children.

As a church leader, do you think the church should teach about sexuality?

Yes it should, but it’s a complicated issue. Although the church teaches abstinence until marriage, we should not abandon those who sin to death via HIV. The Bible says we should love one another and this should extend even to those who do not adhere to the church teachings.

I usually advise youth to learn about sex in the church, even the use of condoms. It’s very discouraging that the church has a kit for people living with HIV but discredits the use of condoms.

Although we don’t directly teach sexuality to the youth in our church, we have workshops for the youth to be told about HIV and AIDS. It’s in these workshops that they are told everything, including safer sex and using condoms when they have no way out of sex.

What about parents and other older relatives at our homes? Is it necessary for parents to talk to the youth about sex?

Yes it is, and it has always been necessary, but now things have changed. Those who are supposed to be teaching about sexuality have become the problem.

In our age, our aunties, uncles, and grandparents were the ones who used to pass this information to the youth, but they are now the culprits. Something needs to be done to rescue our youth!

Dear listeners, we must stop there for today. Clearly, there is a gap that needs to be filled. Both our guests strongly believe that educating our youth about sex and sexuality before they experience the same problems can help. We ask you to think about these things. What suggestions do you have? Until next time, goodbye. My name is Dominic Mutua Maweu, the producer and presenter of this program.


Contributed by: Dominic M. Maweu, freelancer, Rural Voices Africa.

Reviewed by: Busisiwe Ngcebetsha, Media and Training Centre for Health, Cape Town, South Africa.

Information sources

Interviews with:

Julia Wambui Maina, June 2006, Kibezi, Mkueni County, Kenya.

Michael Mutune, August 5, 2013, Mtito Andei, Mkueni County, Kenya

Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)