How safe is the “withdrawal method” in preventing pregnancy? Can I fall pregnant the first time I have sex? How many times can I use the same condom?
These are just some of the questions Mzansi youth frequently asked Connect-Ed Buddy, a sexual health education support programme that is part of the Connect-Ed initiative.
Jose Lechuga, category manager of Healthcare for Reckitt Benckiser SA, the medicine makers and distributors, said through the programme they have been able to learn and address some of the questions youth have regarding sexual health.
“The questions asked illustrate that pupils are more worried about falling pregnant than contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, and that’s a problem,” she said.
With the objective of giving young people of high school age sexual health knowledge and advice, Connect-Ed Buddy gives pupils the chance to ask and get answers anonymously to some of the questions they have around sex.
Qualified guidance counsellors are on hand to answer questions through the mobi site – www.connectedbuddy.mobi – that has to date logged questions from 54 000 pupils. It's also available on Facebook.
“We hope that through this programme we will be able to correct some misconceptions that pupils have around sex and encourage them to realise how unsafe sexual practices and behaviours can be harmful to both their health and future,” said Jose.
Nkosana Mnisi, chief education specialist at the Gauteng Department of Education, said the association with Connect-Ed has valuable for them as they use it to plan the department’s sexual health education activities.
“The programme is especially important in that it allows us to identify key areas that are common among teens, that need focused development which we can work towards implementing specifically into the life orientation school curriculum,” he said.