4Rs: Be Ready, Have Respect, Know your Rights, Practice Responsibility

Having been reared in a family of educators, I grew up exposed to teaching models and jargon. In fact, modesty aside, I knew who Piaget was at a very early age since my grandfather who was a district supervisor would talk about him endlessly. One of the earliest models that stuck to my mind was the 3Rs, which meant Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. I thought it was clever the way the concepts were reduced to R’s although I also thought it was a bad acronym.

I just came from a session where psycho-socio-cultural aspects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, particularly among adolescents, were discussed and analyzed. The emerging consensus was that governments alone, or religions alone, can not save the younger generation from HIV/AIDS. In fact, both governments and religions have been noted to have been largely unsuccessful in managing risky sexual behaviors though generations. If religions and their moral codes work so well in the first place, then maybe we would not be where we are right now. It is probably the desire to be popular that torpedo government efforts.

What struck me the most about efforts to address HIV/AIDS spread among adolescents is the parenting stance that the efforts assume. Why should government, or the church, or anyone for that matter, assume the job of parents? Why should anyone presume to know better than parents? When the church or the government (such as the MTRCB) begins to assume that they are in a better position to point out what is right or wrong for our children, then we are in deep shit because the people who constitute them are hardly ideal parents to begin with. Priests and nuns talking about parenthood? Manoling and his ilk talking about responsible sexual behavior? Oh please.

Of course, the underlying assumption is that parents know what they are doing in the first place. And here comes another paradox. Parents themselves can not act responsibly precisely because the same access to education and information have been denied them. The cycle goes on and on.

If parents can not educate their children about responsible sexual behavior, they shouldn’t be parents in the first place.


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