It is worrying that teenagers as young as 12 or 13 are already sexually active and have multiple sexual partners ("Big drop in number of teen pregnancies" and "Teenagers 'starting to have sex at a younger age'"; both published on Monday).
Teenagers are at a developmental stage where they are not fully capable of understanding the relationship between behaviour and consequence.
They feel as if they are immune to the laws of mortality and probability.
As a result, they take all kinds of risks, falsely secure that they will never get sick, killed or caught.
They also think that by using contraceptives, they will not suffer the consequences of having premarital sex.
The minds of teenagers are not as ready for sex as their bodies are.
Teenagers tend to invest more in the relationship and suffer deeper pain and hurt when the relationship ends.
Academic studies show that the emotional health of these adolescents and their relationships with their families can be adversely affected.
Guilt over past sexual acts, loss of self-respect and a sense of regret can cripple these teenagers and lead to youth suicides.
Studies have found that merely understanding the facts of sexuality and knowing how to obtain contraception do not correlate with more responsible and cautious sexual behaviour.
Teenagers have difficulty envisioning alternatives and then evaluating each one, as they tend to focus on immediate needs.
Cognitive immaturity makes it difficult for them to arrive at rational decisions about sexuality.
Parents should always be the primary communicators with their children about sexuality, imparting values and the family's religious positions.
No effective programme can operate without the support of parents.
Lastly, sex is an expression of love and intimacy.
The increase in the number of our young exploring sex at such a young age is a sign that family support is lacking.
The growing prevalence of dual-income families, coupled with the rise in divorce rates, results in our young looking for love outside the family.
Having premarital sex is not the norm and should not be taken as such. It is a symptom of a society breaking down if we do not build a strong family as the foundation.
Just as teenagers are not emotionally or mentally ready to be parents, they are equally not ready for the consequences of having premarital sex.
Ho Lay Ping (Ms)
This article was first published on Feb 26, 2016.
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