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K2: High school romance

19 November, 2007 – Sweet sixteen or any other teen is time for high school romance. Wouldnt you agree? Its puppy love time, its all about butterflies in the stomach, holding hands, prince charming and beautiful princess, blushes, tongueties, heart-breaks and -aches.But thats not all, say high school students in the capital. Most are well aware of what all the fuss about safe sex is, and they know teenage pregnancy is a reality.

Prevent Teen Pregnancy Tips For Parents

1. Be clear about your own sexual values and attitudes.
2. Be a parent with a point of view. These are the kinds of things you could say to your child : I think kids in high school are too young to have sex, especially given the risks of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
3. Supervise and monitor your childrens activities – know where your children are at all times. You may be accused of being too snoopy, but you can help your children understand that parents who care know where their kids are.
4. Know your childrens friends and their families.
5. Discourage early, frequent and steady dating and encourage group activities.
6. Take a strong stand against teens dating people who are significantly older or younger than they are.
7. Help your teens opt for a future that is much more attractive than early pregnancy and parent hood; help them set meaningful goals for their future. Talk with them about what they will need to do to reach their goals, and help them reach these.
8. Emphasize how much you value education. School failure is one of the key risk factors for teen parenthood.
9. Know what your kids are watching, reading and listen- ing to.
10. Strive for a relationship that is warm and affectionate and emphasize on mutual trust and respect.

(The National Campaign to)

The question is do they put to practice what they know. A random survey carried out by City Bytes in some schools of the capital showed that some high school students are coy, others outspoken and, in their own ways, gave City Bytes a peek into the romantic lives of teenagers and high school students in the city.

Attraction to the opposite sex was not just butterflies in the stomach but sometimes more sensual, something teenagers dont mind indulging in. However, our survey showed that boys were more forthcoming than girls.

Its the most happening thing, this teenage pregnancy, in schools, said Ozzy (nickname), a 15-year old high school girl from one of the schools in Thimphu. I remember two girls got PG and they had to drop school, she said, carving with her hands a bulging image in front of her tummy to illustrate.

I guess girls should talk about this stuff with their mothers and boys with their fathers for proper guidance, said Ozzy. Her friends nodded. And parents should be frank with their kids, so that kids can open up to them without being afraid, said another.

Asked what could be done to avoid such unwanted pregnancy, they said safe sex.

According to the survey findings most students were aware of safe sex and associated it mainly with use of condoms during sex to protect both involved from STDs like HIV/AIDS.

Over 50 percent of the girls and about 90 percent of the boys said they knew what safe sex was.

Maybe urban students are better informed about safe sex, said principal of Yangchenphug High School, Pema C Wangdi. Teenage pregnancy is not much of a problem in city schools as it is in rural ones.

Students are given counselling and when it comes to pairing up, the school, she said, was strict.

Students said that some teachers were exceptions and, since they had gone through the same phase, they were more understanding. They give us advice like you can date but not mate, said Uden from Lungtenzampa middle secondary school.

Most students said that there should not be more freedom in schools, because it would only lead to lack of interest in studies and bad habits. Some said that having girl- or boy-friends was a distraction, as they spent time on phones during study time and could not concentrate while in class.

Guidance is necessary. And who better than parents, being who they are and to show how much they care? The kids agreed, in the survey, and gave reasons, such as being part of the family made them responsible to let their parents know, or because their parents were the better judge as to the suitability of the boy or girl.

But they should know did not necessarily mean that they opened up their hearts to their parents.

The reasons, students said, was firstly the age, at which they were not expected to be engaged in romance but paying heed to their academic performance, secondly, because they did not know for sure if it was for good, and thirdly, because it was still an orthodox society they were living in.

Friends or siblings, whom they could trust, were mostly the confidants, sometimes even the holder of secrets on sexual relationships.

According to the survey findings most had boy- or girl-friends as they entered their teens, and it began with admiration for a particular girl or boy, through love letters, teasing and, sometimes, because of pressure from friends.

One important reason why parents were kept out was because of the uncertain future and the lack of seriousness or commitment to the relationship.

Short-lived or not, while bonding a romantic relationship, both boys and girls looked for qualities like smarts, intelligence, care, love, beauty, good sense of fashion, background, wealth, and popularity in school.

Girls tagged along commitment and trust, which could sometimes be excess baggage to boys, especially those who look for sex or one-night-stands, openly expressed during the survey. But some boys can be as nave as this teenager who says, I wonder what they say to each other on a date where they spend two or more hours together.

Dating, for those who were experienced as well as not, with some exceptions, was largely a time to spend with one another and know more about the other through talks that occur during long rides and walks. Dates also meant taking girls out to fast food joints, concerts and discos. Its going to the cheapest restaurant in town, said a high school girl.

Talking about cheapest restaurants, most students said that cash, apart from misunderstanding, lack of privacy, both for dating and talking over the phone, and time were problems that they faced in a relationship.

Girls usually spent on gifts while boys spent on impressing girls by taking them out to discos or dinners. However, sometimes impressing girls carried intentions of getting something in return, said a teenage boy.

A kiss, perhaps, he said. Romantic? Hmm …

By Sonam Pelden- [email protected] and
Kinley Wangmo- [email protected]

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