Parents are the first educators of life skills for adolescents but this is usually not the case because for a lot of reasons like religion, social and cultural constraints parents are somewhat shy of discussing sexuality issues with their children and wards at home. In these days of information technology and uncensored viewing of electronic materials, the adolescent of today is bombarded with all kinds of information. This leaves the child with the wrong information processing ability. Adolescence is the transition period between total social economic dependence to relative adult independence. It is a period fraught with confusion. A poorly informed parent is a risk to the adolescent who thus sources for his information from other (just as risky) sources sometimes resulting in devastating consequences for parent, government and society.
It is thus necessary to conduct 'refresher courses' for parents on the needs to educate their wards and children on sexuality issues.
Alarming messages or strictures do not always have the intended effect.
According to the World Health Organization the youth is a person within the age of 10- 19 while the National Adolescent Health Policy classifies as between the age 10-24.
Communication in its simple terms is the process by which people exchange information or express their thoughts and feelings. It is thus really a two way process of information exchange. This exchange can be verbal, active, impassive or non-verbal. We communicate constantly. It is part of our everyday life. From us to the receiver. We have a constant two-way exchange. Now we want to look not just at this means of communication, we also are considering the role of youths in using these communications strategies to effect behavioral change. That sounds like quite a mouthful! The youth today unlike the youth of yesterday has come quite under a lot of pressures. He is bombarded at every turn with a variety of information format that he needs to be careful on the things he needs to process the information he receives.
What determines the behavior of a person, his beliefs and drives his ambitions and dreams?
VALUE SYSTEMS PREVALENT IN THE SOCIETY.
These issues also concern youth as all we have mentioned also affects them. Parents are the first socializing agents for a child until his consciousness is awakened to a level that he can process other forms of information format. So the parent is the first communication contact. The success or otherwise of that experience tend to color the negotiating and discerning ability of the child.
OTHER FACTORS OF COMMUNICATION
Apart from the immediate family circle the youth contends with these other factors to process information, which affects his behavior.
1. The Print media
They as information agents are sources of information for youth and can have negative influences in their presentation of issues and goals.
2. Electronic Media comprises the radio and television. Though the radio depends on the imagination of the listener to carry its more subtle messages across the more glamorous sister has an immediacy and believability that can influence the mores and concepts of a youth
3. The Internet today is a veritable minefield of information and carries the awesome potential of widening the horizon of the youth to heights or depths beyond his own imagination.
Interpersonal channels like your mother, sister, pastor, friends, teachers or even youth centers carry some intimacy and engender some level of trust but may not necessarily be the best channel for accurate and precise information! Youth talk more freely amongst themselves but are also veritable containers of misinformation, myths and inaccurate information sometimes.
Since communication is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship, it is important to appreciate its importance as a means of behavioral change.
What are the issues we must look at and how can we improve or change them?
What does a youth want?
How does he negotiate his relationships?
How accurate is his information?
Which information channels does he use and trust?
How can he effect change in his information processing?
Relationships and risky behavior patterns.
FACTORS AGAINST BEHAVIORAL CHANGE IN YOUTH.
BODY AND MOOD CHANGES
When puberty sets in, a young person goes through a change that is bewildering and confusing to him/her. Former innocent relationships assume a proportion that can loom large and frightening. Negotiating these relationships becomes very important. A child who had been easy going suddenly becomes taciturn, moody, belligerent sometimes and suffers mood swings.
There are so many different pressures that hamper youth. The most readily recognizable pressure is peer pressure but there are other subtle pressure exerted through the media. For example, adverts that extol the virtues of certain drinks do not help the youth to keep his focus. Concepts that endanger his sexual health when he is confronted with skimpily clad ladies or muscle bound males become pressure points of misplaced value and do hamper healthy growth.