There was an interesting article published earlier this week in the New York Times entitled “Talking with Children about Sex and AIDS: When to Start?” The article highlighted the makings of a forthcoming documentary put together by two young girls and their parents all of whom attended the 2006 International AIDS Society conference in Toronto. Filmed by their parents, the two girls (aged 6 and 4) interviewed top AIDS experts, activitsts, condom distributors, etc. about HIV/AIDS. The article emphasized the varying levels of comfort with which these experts were able to respond to questions about HIV when asked by children. As to what age to start talking to children about sex: the girls’ mother, Ms. Daoussi argues, “It’s when they’re ready to ask. It’s our own discomfort that’s the problem, not theirs. Kids don’t have taboos.”
Although PSI does some parent/child communication interventions, Ms. Daoussi’s comment gets at larger issues about how we approach our health communication message design. It emphasizes the importance of meeting target group needs and underscores the fact that sometimes those needs don’t coincide with the pre-determined messages with which our peer educators or outreach workers are equipped. Although it is often a struggle to balance donor or program objectives and target group needs, PSI programs should strive to make its programs more audience-centered.
More on this topic soon...