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Sex Education in Panama's Schools, Teen Pregnancy, and the Law

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An interesting statistic -- highlighted below in yellow -- that neither surprises me nor pleases me.



Bishop’s move to stall sex-education bill

Posted on July 8, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 161

PANAMA’S BISHOPS  have made their expected move to block or delay a  proposed  sexual education program for schools as the country struggles to  cope with over 32 recorded child and teen pregnancies  every day.

The Ministry of Health figures do not include  Social Security (CSS) and private hospital deliveries.

The Panamanian Episcopal Conference at the end of their plenary assembly on Friday, July 8,   issued a statement in which it stressed that parents have the duty and the right to be “the first, main and irreplaceable educators of their children” on sexual and moral issues.

The bishops also stressed that they share concerns with civil groups over the contents of the proposed bill awaiting second debate in the National Assembly that would create a comprehensive sexual education program for the country’s schools.

“Taking into account the questions and concerns that the project has attracted in large segments of society, we call for this initiative to be returned to first debate to listen to the proposals of the various sectors and develop the necessary consensus,” they said.

Taking into account the attendance record of deputies and the slow moving administrative process, sending the bill back may see it talked to death.

The proposal has been introduced to combat issues such as teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health will jointly oversee the implementation of the program if it is approved.


Edited by Moderator_02
edited title to make it a bit more general
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MEDIA WATCH: Panama must move on sex education

Posted on July 9, 2016 in Panama

There are over 32 child and teen pregnancies in Panama every day.
Post Views: 74

Hoyporhoy, La Prensa July 9.

A PART of public opinion has reacted with a sense of discomfort to the proposed guidelines for sexual education, still in the draft stage, and Bill 61, which organizes the policy of sexual and reproductive health, that by coincidence are simultaneously in the public eye.

Panama has soent  much of the current century discussing and debating sex education initiatives that fail because of resistance and very vocal opposition from some sectors, usually linked to the dominant religious cults.

A part of public opinion has reacted with a sense of discomfort to the proposed guidelines for sexual education, still in the draft stage, and Bill 61, which organizes the policy of sexual and reproductive health, and that by coincidence are simultaneously in the fore. Panama took much of the current century discussing and debating sex education initiatives that fail because resistance and very vocal opposition sectors, usually linked to the dominant religious cults in our country. As if it were a a late night introduction  , or a legislative maneuver,  Bill 61 seems to have caught certain groups by surprise  despite the entire year it  was in first debate, insist that it was not consulted, and see in the text of the ghosts exist. While some parents have been diligent and very responsible with the sexual education of their children, the vast majority of children and young Panamanians learn on the street. The world of Nevermore is over, we have a new reality that needs to be addressed. Panama awake.


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While I believe that the science of procreation is necessary for all school children, glorifying the act is not preferred by many religious groups since premarital sex is a sin per the Bible.  Education is the key to  prevention.  Every generation deals with the raging hormones of teenagers regardless of country of origin or education.  It is biology.

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Battle lines drawn on sex education

Posted on July 13, 2016 in Panama

Civil groups unite to support sex education bill
Post Views: 82

WITH OVER  1000, child teen pregnancies a month and a dramatic increase in sexually transmitted diseases,   15 civil organizations, faced with ongoing opposition from church authorities,   have banded together to support the law on sexual and reproductive education now before the National Assembly.

“We cannot under any circumstances accept disinformation, manipulation and misrepresentation that has been part of the opposition to the project,” said their spokespersons  at a Wednesday July 13 press conference.

The groups  said there should be no delay in the implementation of the law.(61)

Since 1999, when the National Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health was established, there has been  a call to government authorities about the need for a law that is focused on the protection of children, adolescents and youth. However, all attempts were “held back” by the same groups who now oppose a law on comprehensive sexuality education.

The civil groups called to the government of Juan Carlos Varela to give greater attention to an issue, which has become a public health problem.

And, according to the alliance , the situation has worsened with  nearly a thousand teenage pregnancies per month, the increase in sexually transmitted infections, early onset of sexual relations in the minors, among other problems.

The conference also argued that there cannot be an intrusion of Churches in state affairs.

“There is separation of church and state because the government’s commitment is the welfare of the whole nation, and this is a public health issue and as such needs to be addressed.”

The bishops of the Catholic Church at the Panamanian Episcopal Conference affirmed that parents have the duty and the right to be the first and irreplaceable educators of their children, also in the sexual plane., They have expressed concern about the content of bill 61.

While there is consensus on the need for health lessons and sex education in schools in the country, yet no agreement is reached on how it should be addressed this issue.

The Platform for Children has planned a march from  the El Carmen church on  Via  Espana  to Plaza Cinco de Mayo to reject bill 61 and the guidelines on sex education and reproduction.


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On 7/13/2016 at 11:34 AM, MarieElaine said:

While I believe that the science of procreation is necessary for all school children, glorifying the act is not preferred by many religious groups since premarital sex is a sin per the Bible.  Education is the key to  prevention.  Every generation deals with the raging hormones of teenagers regardless of country of origin or education.  It is biology.

When I was a teenager in the Jurassic, the only method used to stop the kids from having sex was fear and shaming.  That didn't work either.

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15 hours ago, JudyS said:

When I was a teenager in the Jurassic, the only method used to stop the kids from having sex was fear and shaming.  That didn't work either.

That's true but I would be willing to bet there were a lot fewer teenage pregnancies in our day. It definitely was the exception and not the norm.

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Sexual education- Panama’s great divide

Posted on July 14, 2016 in Panama

Reps of groups who support Bill 61, and organized marchers opposed
Post Views: 65

THOUSANDS of anti-sex education protesters who  marched on the presidential palace  in an event organized by the Catholic Church and episcopal groups, aimed at  a bill seeking to introduces a measure of sex education in Panama schools  have won the latest round of the battle.

Although some 46 civic groups had met earlier in the day, Wednesday July 13 supporting Bill 61, and pointed out the need for Church and State to be separated, the ruling bloc of the Panamenista Party, whose leader, President Juan Carlos Varela is an active church supporter, was listening to the marchers.

The bloc  reported on Thursday, that it will  file a motion for the controversial bill on sexual and reproductive health education to be  returned to first debate to  the Health Commission of the National Assembly, stalling an attempt that has been debated endlessly since the closing years of the last century.

There  are over  32 child and teenage pregnacies  in Panama every day according to Ministry of Health figures which do not include those delivered   in private hospitals and social security, and  there is a major increase in sexualy transmitted diseases’s  including HIVamong teens.


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Reflecting a bit here.

When I recently started this topic, there was no second thought as to where to post here on CL -- at that time this topic clearly belonged in the Panama in General forum. Now that I have had time to read the additional postings and to noodle this subject, it appears more appropriate for it to be in the Culture forum. These mindsets and actions on the part of the Panamanians working for change as well as those protesting said change are actually part of the Panamanian (perhaps Latin, in a more general sense) culture.

I am not wanting to change anything; I just like to understand. I think this topic is bringing to the fore yet another aspect of Panamanian culture that was previously not clear to me.

I won't ask the admin (my other persona) to move this topic, but am curious if others see and understand what is going through my mind.

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Culture -- or lack thereof. The suppression of education and/or knowledge and/or wisdom strikes me as the roots of cultural regression. Or is it repression? Again, hubris is the driving force, and I find it despicable.


Soapbox for rent: $9.99 Balboas.

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I agree that education and knowledge is the answer for improvement. Can't understand Bishop's position on this topic.

As a sidebar thought, do these protesters expect ex-pats to continue forever with feeding the poor and helping the handicap population in Panama. If the "needy" group keeps growing (maybe because of lack of training and education) where does this all end and does the local culture impove? Of course not.

Sounds like the present system of no education just perpetuates this subjugation of the undereducated. 

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Here's a Panamanian gentleman's blog that was published as an op-ed piece in today's LaPrensa.


The Battle for the Future of Sexual Education

Rodrigo Noriega 15 jul 2016 - 11:04h

Temas: Proyecto De Ley 61 Salud Sexual

At a dinner a few friends started a fierce discussion. The diners of other tables were impressed by the intensity of the debate. The reason for the exchange was very simple. One individual was opposed to the Project of Law 61 and the guides of sex education currently under discussion. When asked if they had read the documents of discord, the answer was no, and that it was not necessary to read, because they "knew" what these documents were saying.

When I was in fourth grade of primary school, back in 1977, our teacher Rosa, a mature woman and very affectionate, educator of vocation, gave me my first class of sex education and affectivity, which consisted of a brief scientific explanation and health of the sexual organs which concluded with a series of tips that until today I repeat to all the young people I know: "Take good care because you have a great future ahead which you should not risk for a brief moment of pleasure".

Like so many young people of my generation I searched busily in the encyclopedias, magazines and in literature in general about the mysteries of sex. Anais Nin, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Emmanuelle Arsan and other authors i fantasized what sex could be. It was also the time of the great Erotic films as: "The Last Tango in Paris", "Caligula", "The Empire of the Senses" and "Emmanuelle". The acquis of the sexual culture of Generation X is enormous, and therefore we are generating more frustrated and unsatisfied sexually that has had the history.

The Draft Law 61, which has had more than a year in the first debate, is not what its critics say, but nor what its advocates propose. This project is an honest effort and minimalist to codify in a single standard the principles that govern the management on the part of the Government to provide sexual and reproductive health services to the population. This project gives guarantees unpublished. For example, the "conscientious objection" to health officials that for moral reasons are opposed to provide sexual and reproductive health services.

The project is the best attempt that i have known, of part of the Panamanian State, to combat abortion and to help mitigate the sexual violence who suffer, mainly women and children. The project does not set any prerogative for people of different sexual orientations to the heterosexual, has nothing to do with civil unions between people of the same sex or the abolition of the parental authority.

For its part, the guides of sex education - in draft - are subject to all of the changes that the broad working group that the drafts can add. This group includes representatives of government agencies and civil society, of all colors and perspectives. Are 60 participants in the group preparing these documents, which are intended only for teachers.

The guide has with the advice of the United Nations Population Fund. Surely, the United Nations has helped produce guides of various calibers for different countries, without impositions, and with a criterion of respect for human dignity. The Population Fund (UNFPA by its initials in English or FONUAP, United Nations Fund for Population Activities), has been characterized as a great villain that pushes the ideology of the comprehensive sexuality education (EIS) and something even more perverse, the gender approach.

A few years ago, when I was in El Salvador, an extremely polite person who was opposed to sex education, explained to me that it was all part of a Jewish and Masonic conspiracy. According to this politician, the Masons controlled the UN, so that the good members of their religious brotherhood should reject these proposals. That gave me so much laughter, i thought that this conversation was something I had read in a novel by Umberto Eco.

The Conspiracy of UNFPA (Jewish-Masonic) is added to another great villain, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) by its initials in English. The IPPF is the black beast of the Americans' Catholics and Evangelicals conservative groups. Some of the local chapters of the organization, such as several of its clinics in the United States, have been the subject of sabotage, shootings, pumps and the constant harassment against doctors and activists working for that organization, product of the fundamentalist fanaticism and extremism that shakes the United States.

Can the the sexual education guides be improved?

Yes, surely. The guides are in draft version and still lack much to reach a final version. In addition, the guides are not for students, nor have instructions on the anal sex or the best techniques of masturbation. Are boring and I doubt that to be read in its entirety by some young.

What are the reasons for opposition to these two separate efforts?

Honestly it seems to me that there is a lot of good people who do not understand, do not have read or that, in the background, are reacting to a process of accumulation of events and incidents that perceive that goes against their "ideal family model".

In the United States last year, the Supreme Court of Justice legalized marriage between homosexuals. A famous Olympic athlete and stepfather of a celebrity, was changed from sex. In Panama, the gay pride parade is becoming more and more popular and the first girl transsexual obtained its recognition by the Electoral Tribunal.

There are four reasons for fund for that we have sex education guides, after more than a decade to be trying to produce them:

1. There are 32 daily pregnancies in adolescents and young girls. Do not know the number of abortions that accompany this figure;

2. HIV is the third leading cause of death for young people between 15 and 24 years. If we consider that the incubation period of the disease is between four to eight years, wants to say that many of those killed by AIDS in Panama were infected at least 11 years of age.

3. It is estimated that up to 95 % of the cases of rape, incest and rape are totally unknown by the apparatus of justice. Sexual violence is not a monopoly of the poor in the ghettos. Occurs every day, in all social classes and in the complicit silence we let wither the soul of children and young people who have no one to defend him. Sexual harassment in schools and universities, in the work and in cyberspace is extremely strong. And has been an important number of suicides and very deep psychological damages, without that there are the right tools to confront it;

4. Prostitution, Child Pornography and the sex trade have gone in growth thanks to the internet. It is estimated that at least 30 per cent of everything that happens on the internet has to do with pornography. Now the guys are sexually by Celular, while the girls (many minors) compete with their intimate photos in the cellular his comrades and friends.

When I was in primary school, the teacher Rosa repeated incessantly about the need to take care of ourselves and protect us. This generation does not have so many teachers like Rosa and parents do not always exist in the world where young people now live. Their sexual education no longer comes from literature or the cinema. They learn by watching and doing by cellular, social networks and other means that nobody controls and, therefore, are not the subject of debate in the National Assembly, or in meetings of experts, officials and civil society. If we want to leave a better world and to give them a chance to pursue a life of dignity, these guides are a tool that can save many lives.


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Assembly dithers as teen pregnancies climb

Posted on July 16, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 47

WHILE THE BATTLE lines are drawn in the debate over proposed sex education  in Panama schools, the central issue of the conflict – child pregnancies – continues to worsen as the National Assembly dithers

When the debate over Bill 61, first began the Ministry of Health (MoH)  produced figures to show that over 32 pregnancies a day were recorded among  children  aged 10-19 years of age. That’s without counting deliveries in Social Security facilities (CSS)  or private hospitals.

But, the latest MoH report shows that in a month the figure  has jumped  by 976  with the total for the year ending to June   at 5,856 up from 4,880 at the

Rubiela Sánchez, a member of the Panama Coalition for Comprehensive Sexual Education, said that if the proposal is returned to first debate, the aim should be to improve it and seek consensus among the diverse members of civil society.

She added that it is unfortunate that while the law is being discussed the issue of teen pregnancy continues to be ignored.

Rossana Uribe, a member of the board of the Panamanian Association for Family Planning, said that the data are alarming, but as it  happens in poor circles, few people care.

She said that attempts to introduce a sex education law have failed repeatedly because unfortunately the religious issue is involved, when in fact it is a public health issue.

She added that it is unfortunate that while the law is being discussed the issue of teen pregnancy continues to be ignored.

Roderick Burgos, a member of the Alliance for Life and the Family, said that the issue isn’t whether or not there is a need for a discussion about health issues, but rather the venue. He said public schools is not the appropriate forum for the discussion.


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On 7/15/2016 at 8:30 PM, Keith Woolford said:


4. Prostitution, Child Pornography and the sex trade have gone in growth thanks to the internet. It is estimated that at least 30 per cent of everything that happens on the internet has to do with pornography. Now the guys are sexually by Celular, while the girls (many minors) compete with their intimate photos in the cellular his comrades and friends.



FBI aiding in fight against Panama child pornography

Posted on July 19, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 61

FBI aiding in fight against Panama child pornography

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY in Panama is on a major upswing  with 1,100 investigations  by the Public Ministry  during 2015  only in the capital city.

In 2014, There were 405 cases

“The Attorney General’s Office increased from two to five, prosecutors involved in investigating sexual crimes. They have also been trained by the FBI which  has provided new computer programs that allow tracking child pornography in the country” said First Circuit Sex Crimes Specialist Prosecutor Katya Melendez reports La Prensa.

The prosecutor  said that in Panama are recorded with higher numbers of “grooming” situations are being recorded. That is when the sex offender creates a false profile through a social network to communicate with children and adolescents.

Then they develop a relationship through the internet and convinces the child to send him pictures or videos where the is naked or performing sexual acts.

The attacker uses that pornographic material to extort and demand personal encounters. If  the child does not accept  the adult often discloses photographs and videos of childrenon social networks.

Melendez said  that the  practice of spreading pornographic material with minors, advertising, selling  or manufacture it, is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

It is a crime to transmit child pornography on Twitter  or Whatsapp.


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Ex- First Lady rallies to support sex-ed bill

Posted on July 25, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 62

A  FORMER FIRST LADY joined scores   of people gathered in Concordia Plaza on  Via España, on Monday, July 25,  for a protest to support the controversial law that would require sexual education to be taught in schools.

Banners in hand, the participants argued that the country needs the controversial law to pass due to problems such as teen pregnancy.and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases..

The participants included former  First Lady Vivian Fernández de Torrijos and Doctor Xavier Saez-Llorens, a prominent pediatrician and medical scientist among others reports La Prensa

“It will help the country,” said the former first lady.

Saez-Llorens said the law will have a positive impact on public health.

Recently, thousands of Catholics and Evangelicals, including school children  called ou by their by their church leaders, paraded through the streets to successfully  get the debate stalled and sent back to first reading.


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Panamanian named to key UN post

Posted on July 28, 2016 in Panama

Dr Natalia Kamen
Post Views: 74

WHILE PANAMA’S Assembly struggles to get to grips with the issue of sexual education in schools,   the UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon has named a  Panamanian as new adjunct general secretary of the United Nations Population Fund, which aims to promote safe sexual practices among other issues.

Dr Natalia Kanem arrives at that position with more than 25 years experience in strategic leadership in the fields of medicine, public and reproductive health, peace, social justice and philanthropy.

She has taught at Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University.

Kanem holds a degree in medicine from Columbia in New York and a master’s degree in public health, with a specialization in epidemiology and preventive medicine, from the University of Washington.

She also graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in history and science.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Opponents seek to stifle sex education talk

Posted on August 17, 2016 in Panama

Sex education opponents
Post Views: 59

MEMBERS  of  a  group opposed to the teaching of sexual education  in public schools have threatened the government with mass action   and a demand for the ousting of the Education Minister if the  National Assembly does not  suspend the discussion of Bill 61, a law on  sexual education.

In addition,Platform for children asked that guidelines for sex education being developed by the Ministry of Education be halted.

Abdiel Sandoya, one of the spokesmen for the platform, said that they will give the government a deadline of five days to meet their demands or they will take action, such as calling for  mass protests. They will also demand the resignation of Education Minister Marcela Paredes de Vasquez.

Juan Francisco de la Guàrdia, of the Panamanian Alliance for Life and Family, said that the group would be presenting an alternative draft bill to the assembly. He said that this would focus on teaching sexual education “through training in principles and values, and not through the delivery of contraceptive pills.”

The Assembly recently returned the law to first debate so that it could be discussed by the Health Commission.


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Juan Francisco de la Guàrdia, of the Panamanian Alliance for Life and Family, said that the group would be presenting an alternative draft bill to the assembly. He said that this would focus on teaching sexual education “through training in principles and values, and not through the delivery of contraceptive pills.”

6 hours ago, Bud said:

Why is the group against sex education claiming that contraceptive pills will be delivered?  Sexual health education is just that, education regarding sexual health and methodologies employed to keep ones body healthy.  I think the two groups need to get together and talk.  We discussed this subject in church and there were definitely those fanatics that believe that teaching sex ed would encourage our teenagers to have more of it!  Such a narrow point of view since they are going to have sex whether we educate them or not.  Obviously these people have forgotten what it is like to have those raging teenage hormones.

Edited by MarieElaine
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  • 2 weeks later...

Sex education talks resume

Posted on September 1, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 55

THE SEEMINGLY  never ending   discussions  over  sexual education in Panama’s public schools resumed in the National  Assembly on  Thursday September 1.

The Health Commission of the National Assembly began consultations on the bill that would mandate the inclusion of sexual education in the curriculum.

The commission, chaired by Deputy Crispiano Adames, was attended by approximately 20 representatives from various organizations who are for and against the proposal.

The bill was previously approved by the commission, but the full assembly returned the bill to it for further consultations to achieve a consensus after strong opposition from religious geoups.


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Shelving sex education problem

Posted on September 2, 2016 in Panama, Your Man in Panama

Post Views: 100

BATTLE LINES  remain  drawn  between churches and advocacy groups over  a proposed law mandating the teaching of sexual education in public schools as “casualties” climb at over 33 a day.

The National Assembly has crumbled over the years in the face of Church opposition, and donned  blinkers  when faced with statistics showing an ever increasing rate of adolescent  pregnancies, and STD’s including children as young as 10.

Reacting to a church organized massive march the craven deputies returned law 61 to first debate on August 6.

One wonders how  opponents with unwed teenage children would react to the news that they were about to become grandparents, or that a son or daughter had developed AIDS.

President  Juan Carlos Varela, widely accused of resemblance to a tortoise, has never been slow in funneling  government funds to church related projects.

Faced with the threat of massive street demonstrations, he   decided to create a commission to study  the law.

Commissions which tend to drag on for years are a favorite political tool for shelving a problem and much loved in Britain where they are deemed Royal until the final “report” is ready to gather dust on the shelves and the “problem” has disappeared from the headlines.

Panama’s  “inter-institutional commission” will study the proposed law and will be led by the Ministry of Education, which has courageously  created three proposed curriculums for primary, pre-secondary and secondary students.

Also on the commission will be Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado and officials from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development, The Institute of Women, The Secretariat of Adolescents and Family, The Gorgas Memorial Institute and Social Security.

The commission will seek input from various sectors, including churches and non-governmental organizations. The goal is to build a consensus.

“We seek agreement on a proposal in line with the realities of the country,” the government said in a press release.

But with opponents  announcing , massive protests before an agenda has been drawn up, and craven deputies looking to  retain  their seats in 2019 don’t expect any move that spells change

Deika Nieto) , a member of the Board of Panamanian Association for Family Planning (APLAFA), says  that from 2014 to July this year the  institution treated over 7,000 of which 2, 349 were teenagers  aged 15-19 and 85 other girls aged 10-14 years.

Until July this year  the Ministry of Health reported over 5,000 teen or younger pregnancies not counting those admitted to private or social security hospitals, and a plethora of newborns left in garbage containers, in toilets or on  the street. That’s a rate of 33-40 pregnancies  day

Other consequences
Paul Cordova planning and evaluation manager at  APLAFA, says  that pregnancy brings consequences in three fundamental aspects:

Health, with minors at a  higher risk of dying in childbirth or during activities.

Education, with  6 out of 10 young pregnant girls leaving the school system. in Economic environment because mother and child are dependent on others for their survival.

The educational system as it stands has failed, says  sociologist   Jose Chamber,  and fast decisions are needed.

But we have a commission  … and by year end at least another 6,000 child pregnancies.


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Sex education is a waste. ALL education is a waste! The better economic option is to just to pass-out cheap Chinese TV's to everyone, and let the cards -- and the babies -- fall where they may. The only thing that really matters is that we have plenty of Important Holy People to keep the bubble in the middle of the spurtchul level while babies are having babies...

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OPINION: The fallout from sexual ignorance

Posted on September 4, 2016 in Media Watch

Post Views: 67

La Prensa de Panama Sep 4.

‘’KNOWLEDGE  is power’’ said the  intellectual Francis Bacon hundreds of years ago.

The lack of such education then, means mental weakness in human beings. In sexual matters, statistics show a cruel and classic bankruptcy: high rates of pregnancies, carnal rape, HIV infections. The numbers show that the incidents are highest in the poorest sectors of the country, where the general school education is more a privilege than a right.

Beyond the numbers: lives. Women and men, adolescents and children who suffer the tragedies of misinformation about comprehensive sexual health.

However, experts say that comprehensive sexual health goes beyond pregnancy, HIV infections and carnal violations.

They include an understanding of behavior, self-esteem, gender and sexual orientation. Learning, in many cases, is obtained when it is too late.


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