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Parents could make a lot of difference

Interview to 4 young adults in Peru

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I had the opportunity to talk to Marge, Fernando, Ricardo, and Mari. They range 20-22 years old. They all attended to different private schools. 2 of them are finishing college, the other finished one year ago. The four live in Lima - Peru with their parents.

They all agreed that they learned sexual education primarily in their homes. Their parents were responsible for that, and at a certain age (mostly 8-10 years old) they remember that their parents approached them to talk about it. They mentioned that sexual education in their schools was "basic" since parents did the most part and there were no formal subjects related to that.

However, they all mentioned that it is not common in Peru for parents to talk about sex, since it is considered a taboo topic. This is the reality in most of the schools too: sexual education is hardly conducted, and some attention to it is given in the last years of high school. Fernando mentioned that a turning point in his school was that a girl of junior high got pregnant. This led to a change in his school curriculum.

"Teenagers spend most of their time in school. Schools should create awareness of sexual education and resources - they should be the first and mandatory source of information, but they are not. The second source is home. The third option is not knowing anything about it and face the music", Marge stated. "I was lucky, my mother always taught me that since I was a young girl".

Mari stated that nowadays there are more sexual health resources available, at least in the capital city. However, young people do not feel motivated to access them because they feel ashamed and this is worse in the case of women. "Even doctors seem frightened to talk about some of these topics, mostly with girls".

"Lack of information is the main problem for the young population. This should be a priority for the government", Ricardo stated. "Young people will learn anyway from good or bad sources, so sexual education should be given in the proper way: in school and home"

Marge concluded with a situation faced by many of her friends "I lived in Chile for one year, and I saw similar things to here. There is lack of information; difficulties to access to resources especially for women; and a very strong macho culture" she said, very upset. Many teenage girls feel pressured by their boyfriends to have sex very young, not knowing what to do before or after that. "It is a mix of wanting to experience sex by pressure or by emotions, and not knowing what happens next"

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Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Beto, I enjoyed reading your design research! It sounds like lack of information stemming from stigma and cultural barriers was the main problem you uncovered, after your interview I'd love to hear what additional questions you still have around this insight?