Teen issues under spotlight

* The pupils stretch ahead of the workshop getting under way.

The challenges facing teenagers today were addressed in a workshop at the Hout Bay library recently.

Pupils from Silikamva High School were introduced to civic organisations that can help them cope with social pressures, during a youth programme last month.

Overcoming taboos and stigmas and knowing who to contact in a particular set of circumstances were explored during the “Hout Bay Transversal Youth Programme”, on Friday September 22. It promoted healthy lifestyles among the youth and involved SAPS Hout Bay, non-profit Community Cohesion and Hout Bay clinics.

Community Cohesion’s Bronwyn Moore set the ball rolling by asking pupils to do breathing and relaxation exercises.

The organisation’s presentation focused on communication, particularly what body language says about someone.

And animals were used to make the point: an ostrich, for example, describes someone who pretends there is no conflict. A hyena would laugh maniacally in chaotic situations, while a gorilla would present dominant and aggressive behaviour. A peacock, with its myriad “eyes” on its plumage, would get many different perspectives before arriving at an answer.

Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch, of the Hout Bay police, spoke about children’s rights, child protection and situations in which children should approach police for help.

There was some nervous laughter among the pupils when Esther Carolus, head nurse at the Hangberg clinic, spoke about teenage sex

“The question you need to ask yourself is whether you are ready to have sex,” she said. “We get things in the clinic I don’t want to see, but you should be aware of these things. You need to talk about them. I have seen 11- and 12-year-olds drinking at a shebeen before they go to school. But older men will take advantage of you when you’re drunk. Are you able to say no to a man if you’re drunk?”

At this point, Ms Moore asked whether the pupils understood what it meant to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. When a boy answered, “she respects and cares for you”, she posed the question what was meant by respect.

She then asked the pupils to picture having a teenage daughter themselves, and what kind of boyfriends they would like for those children. “Is that picture the same as you have for yourself?” she asked.

Sister Carolus also painted a stark portrait of a teenage mother’s life, and how having a baby impacted on a person’s studies and social life.