Talking to your children about “the birds and the bees” can be a tricky topic for any parent, let alone a grandparent.
That’s why ChildFund Thailand runs a sex education training programme designed specifically for grandparents. Over 50 people have already taken part in the youth led sessions in So Keown, which is rural area of Thailand where grandparents are often the primary caregivers due to parents having to find work in the cities.
Participants were encouraged to be open to questions from their grandchildren around sex and were taught about how to talk to grandchildren about their right to say no. Also about safe sex through using condoms and the contraceptive pill and importantly how to access these through the health centres.
Thailand has the second highest rate of teen pregnancy in Asia and the programme started after sex education was identified as a key issue in community consultation. Once ChildFund and its local partners found health centres to work with, they then recruited and trained local young people to run the sessions. The format of the sessions included games, dance and music which had helped to encourage the older participants to attend.
Jazz is 16 and is one of the youth trainers. She says now not only are many grandparents more open on the subject of teen pregnancy and sex education, but her classmates are more aware of the issues too.
“I have had friends ask ‘I’ve had sex, now what do I do’ and now my classmates are more educated on the issue so they know what to do.’
Another trainer Tan also 16 says: “As a boy, I talk about this with my friends at school and we know we have to respect the girls. Now it is not uncomfortable at all to talk to family about sex, what will happen if I have a girlfriend.”
While Tiffy who is also a youth trainer says good communication does not come naturally to most Thai families. “After training with health centre, they now have the tools needed to communicate this important issue.”