ST JOHN’S — The number of young people in the church engaging in pre-marital sex may shock the populace, however, Youth Director Cleon Athill said society should share the blame because double standards send the wrong messages to youths curious about sex.
“There is always a concern about adults saying one thing and doing another. We are very imputative but we are very permissive,” Athill said.
“The issue for me is how do we provide them with the information, present ourselves and bodies to them; how do they feel about themselves and the skill to negotiate safe sex? I don’t think we are doing that sufficiently.”
Athill, speaking on the state-owned station’s Media Roundtable, explained that the number of teens engaging in various sexual activities is alarming.
“We are seeing issues where young people are forced into transactional sex. They are experimenting more with sex and different types,” she noted, revealing, “Our young people are having sex whether they are in church or not because there was a study that was done of Evangelical youth that shocked the pastors.”
In a UNICEF study titled Survey of the Sexual Practices of Youth Attending Evangelical Churches in Antigua, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, a review was done among people attending youth programmes in Evangelical churches.
Participants indicated that 67.6 per cent of them had been asked to have sexual intercourse while 46.7 per cent had been sexually active and 33.5 per cent had oral sex. Of the female respondents, 42.5 per cent have been sexually active while males in this category amounted to 58.2 per cent. The average number of sexual partners for females was four and males seven. The start of sexual activity peaked between the ages of 15 and 17.
Twenty-eight people — 2.8 per cent of the total — stated that they had tested positive for HIV.
Athill further stated that such shocking statistics among children who attend church, stands to highlight that many more who do not attend church are engaged in such activities.
“Now if we are saying that those persons who are close to God and going to church every day and clapping their hands and getting the spiritual guidance are having sex, what much less to the other people,” she said. (Antigua Observer)