“Prevention is better than cure” or at least that is what World Health Organization (WHO) preaches. But the fact still remains, how many people believe this talkless of adhering to it!
The screening I am referring to in this article is not the physical screening but the psychosocial screening of adolescents (children between the ages of 10 and 19 years). This is a secondary level of prevention wherby an adolescent health consultant is able to detect problems in young people early enough and then manage it before they turn to something else in adulthood. Children who escape this screening, maybe because their parents do not believe in it or these same parents rather hand these kids over to their pastor, usually end up getting involved in risky behaviours, such as alcohol abuse, drug addiction (now this is really common!), early onset of sexual activity. Some may end up being suicidal, under-achievers, infact, generally misbehaving or delinquents.
Adolescence is a transitional period from childhood to adulthood and can be a time of ‘storm’ and ‘stress’ because of the changes these children undergo physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. So it’s important that parents try every possible way to create that enabling environment for them to be nurtured properly. But there are factors in our environment that inhibit this such as our:
– culture (which can be annoyingly and unnecessarily conservative)
– religion (that totally restricts an individual from exploring and expressing their true self, not in a way to displease God as such O!)
– socioeconomic conditions ( poverty, lack of education)
– political factors ( the Nigerian government that has failed to train people who will give consistent and accurate un-biased health education in schools generally especially in sexual and reproductive health)
Now, let me state some facts for you concerning Adolescents and Adolescence:
– Skills-based health education is a necessity for all adolescents
– Adolecents are a product of their environment so it is up to you as a parent to do the needful for your child.
– Positive behaviour and change in an adolescent does not just come like that without exposing that child to health information and skills to make the right decision at the right time.
Up till now, I am still bewildered at the level of Health Illiteracy amongst Nigerian parents and people in general. When you ask a Nigerian parent to screen their children so as to address their specific health needs or ask them to enrol their kids for regular health education classes, these are some of the things you will hear:
– “Dem no need am, when the time reach!”
– “My mother did not give me any and see how well I turned out, therefore my kids will get by”
– “It is not my child’s portion in Jesus name”
– “I know my child…Lai Lai! He can never do that”
The list is endless. Need I remind you that we are not dealing with ‘portions’ here but facts!
This is the computer age! Our kids are getting smarter and carried away too. Your parenting styles can make or mar the relationship you have with your kids.
See what is happening these days, children committing suicide, killing their parents, raping innocent people and animals (yes! Animals o!) After these same adults or parents will be wondering why and how those kids could have committed such heinous acts, when actually, these problems could have been prevented if they had been screened!
Another annoying thing some parents do is that, those that eventually screen their kids and agree to health education classes, think it is a one-off thing! Let me remind you that, “Learning is a continuous and life long process!” And the health education they receive is meant to be repetitive. You are not doing the adolescent health consultants a favour but your kids! It’s cheaper to spend trying to prevent than curing a problem. What is the point producing a child who is academically sound but a serious social retard or delinquent. I would rather have a dull child than have a child who will bring disgrace to the family!
Any way, enough said! A word is enough for those who choose to heed to good advice. Look for an adolescent-friendly clinic and register your child. For now ASTRAH INITIATIVE is the only adolescent-friendly clinic that offers the specialized screening for adolescents.
To get in touch with an Adolescent Health Consultant, call the following numbers and make your bookings or enquiries:
Or send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t dilly dally. You still have enough time to secure your child’s future.