"De Living Room", a clinic for young persons aged 25 and under, on Oxford Street in Port of Spain. (Image courtesy Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT)

The Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) is calling on the Government to introduce an integrated comprehensive health and family life education (HFLE) program for students attending schools across the country and is extending a hand in partnership to support its implementation.

The Association issued an official statement today, renewing its offer of support for such educational initiatives.  The statement was issued in response to reports of videos circulating on social media on November 6th which showed students at a secondary school in south Trinidad dancing suggestively.

Family Planning Executive Director, Ava Rampersad said the situation presents the opportunity for stakeholders to come together to develop further and implement an integrated comprehensive health and family life education program for young people today.

Image courtesy Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT)

“We are not here to point fingers and lay blame,” Rampersad said. “We are here to identify solutions and to work in partnership with other stakeholders towards a shared goal, that being the physical and emotional well-being of our young people. As upper secondary school students return to a live school environment, we want to capitalize on the opportunity now to work together to bridge the gap between teenage confusion and exploration and adult understanding and guidance.”

Rampersad said a strategic, forward thinking, non-judgmental approach to sexuality education can help to reduce the risk of unsafe sexual behaviours among youth, and consequently reduce sexually transmitted infections, unwanted teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions and/ or poor maternal health.

Indicating the Association’s willingness to work with the Ministries of Education and Health and other civil society groups to implement such a program, Rampersad said, “We have to break the cycle of unequipped and unprepared youth making adult decisions and taking actions that can have long term consequences, not just on their lives but on others.”

In the meantime, Rampersad also had this message for parents of pre-teens and teenagers: “We must come together to bring about positive change. We all want a healthy population. We all want our young people to feel safe. If you, as parent, are uncertain and need help, please reach out to us at the Family Planning Association and you can access some of the services we offer.”