Schools are flooding the Barbados Family Planning Association with calls for help because of rampant sexual activity among pupils, the Association’s Executive Director, Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, has said.
Speaking at the Association’s 62nd annual general meeting held at the Yacht Club last night, she told members, staff, volunteers, and well-wishers the demand for assistance had increased, particularly over the last two years.
Bynoe-Sutherland spoke of the organization receiving calls from schools, with a caller in one instance saying, ‘We have a group of people who are having sex in the cafeteria as if it is just after school ping pong snacks’.
She lamented that though the organization had been able to respond, “a lot is happening in the school system with sexuality and the demand for services is outstripping our capacity to supply, and it is an area that we need more volunteers, and more people”.
Bynoe-Sutherland also said the association’s response was being restricted by the laws of the land.
“Youth access to services is still limited by legislation and policy, and we are hoping that we can urge [the authorities] for an increased focus on testing, particularly HIV testing and STI testing among 16 and 17-year-olds.
“We are allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to have sex lawfully, but we don’t promote the kind of mechanisms to allow them to get the kind of access services without parental consent”.
The BFPA official expressed concern that some religious groups occasionally accused the association of promoting “global strange agendas” in schools, when it sought to counsel and help children.
However, she assured this was not the case, saying, “that is not the work that we do.
“Our comprehensive sexuality education, the work that we are doing in schools . . . is very much grounded in what is culturally age-appropriate, and essentially undergirded by a strong emphasis on human rights and gender.
“We must be able to provide [services to teens],” Bynoe-Sutherland insisted.