Let’s Be the Solution Awareness campaigns this month of October are all about solving issues by bringing them out into the open. Let’s Talk! is the theme, and amongst the many issues, including domestic violence and substance abuse, my favorite is of course, talking to children about sexuality. What do they all have in common? Education. With education, prevention is possible. What a simple concept that education is the key to dealing with ongoing social issues.
October Awareness Campaigns:
- Domestic Violence Awareness: Through education and support, survivors are empowered by openness and exposure of violence to deal with ongoing abuse.
- Red Ribbon Week: Through awareness and education, alcoholism and substance abuse are shown to be much more than a drinking or drug “phase”..
- “Let’s Talk”: We can see that not talking with children about sexual topics leaves them ignorant, and ignorance and confusion lead to many negative outcomes, including low self-esteem, STD’s, and teen pregnancy..
If the answer to these issues is education, and education makes for prevention, then why are sex, drugs, and domestic violence still ongoing after all of these years? Resistance:
- Many issues – such as sexuality – we, as a society, find uncomfortable to face are not adequately addressed until there is a huge fire to put out.
- Social stigma and cultural taboos often foster ignorance and shame
- Lack of funding for education and prevention campaigns leaves schools and parents without tools and resource
- Denial (if we pretend problems do not exist, then we do not have to deal with them)
- “These issues do not apply to me and my family.”
Most people have had to deal with one or more of these issues at some point during their life, either personally or with a loved one. Unfortunately, the majority of these issues impact tweens and teens in some way. In my business, obviously the main issue is resistance by parents to talk with their children about sensitive sexual topics. A Harris Poll taken several years ago stated that 90% of parents wanted to be their child’s sexual health educator but only 4% actually were. When we, as a society, decide that sex, violence, and substance abuse are not important topics to face and, in turn, fail to provide funding for education and prevention, our families pay for the fallout – in emergency room visits, law enforcement staff, detectives, attorneys, judges, detox treatment centers, drug and alcohol rehab, counseling, mental health services, and, not to mention, the $9.4 billion dollars taxpayers contribute for issues associated with teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Since the Awareness and Prevention Campaign this month addresses each of these issues, please take a moment to get involved. Make a commitment to choose one or more of these issues head-on. Instead of Domestic Violence Month, Red Ribbon Week or “Let’s Talk” month, let’s make October the pro-active month where we actively use education to reach real solution. Here are some simple things you can do to be pro-active in educating your children, and your community, this month. Concrete Actions to Promote Solution:
- Encourage school board members, administrators, teachers, nurse, and counselors to attend training programs in child/adolescent health, sexuality and substance abuse.
- Promote local civic organizations to sponsor events that promote child health and/or parent-child communication.
- Encourage local churches and other faith organizations to participate in promoting prevention activities in your area.
- Get athletic teams to sponsor prevention and education programs
- Start a “make a date” campaign. Schedule time with the family to sit down and talk together (this is a no electronic zone).
- Our website has resources for parents
- Take a course
- Get informed and educated
- Dig up some Awareness/Advocacy/Resources
- Contact political representatives to increase funding for prevention and education
In the many years I have been an advocate for tween and teen sexual issues, I have found that being proactive in education makes for prevention — and is the only way to make a difference. Make this month count, take a stand and get educated, go online and visit one of the many Web sites suggested above, take one of our courses, commit to making a difference. You owe it to your family and your children will thank you. Education is a key part of empowerment — but also a key piece in relationship. Connected children, educated children, and parented children make better choices, and know their own worth.
“One pebble in a stream creates a great deal of waves.”
Be that pebble in your son or daughter’s life. Educating and empowering!