Easing Our Children s Fears
Children today are faced with a more hostile world than the one in which their parents grew up. Because of this, today s children are also experiencing greater fears and worries. The fears of abuse, violence, drugs, AIDS, and divorce are problems most adults didn t even consider while growing, yet they are commonplace among kids today. Of those fears, the fear of AIDS is one of the few which can be reduced by efforts of parents and teachers. The most effective way
to reduce the anxieties children may experience regarding AIDS is through education. The basis of most fears for children, is that of the unknown. It is the responsibility of parents and teachers
alike to teach the facts about this terrible disease to our children, and through this, allay the fears our children may have regarding AIDS. By educating our children about the basics of this
disease, how it is transmitted, and how to prevent exposure, we can clarify myths and facts, and send our children into the world with knowledge, and some control over their fears.
Teaching our children about the basics of the disease can help to reduce their fears. AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, is the final stage of a disease which causes an abnormal reduction in the body s natural ability to fight disease and infection. Because of this, most people who contract AIDS will eventually die due to AIDS related causes. This can occur in a period anywhere from 5-15 years after exposure to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the cause of AIDS. So far, no cure for AIDS has been found, but current treatments have been found to postpone the onset of AIDS, and prolong life. With medication and some precautions, many patients lead normal lives for years after the discovery of HIV infection.
The education about the transmission of HIV will also help to reduce fears. Many myths abound about how HIV can be contracted, and this uncertainty of fact vs. fiction is a source of fear for many children. HIV is a blood-borne disease. This means that it can only be transmitted by exposure to blood of an infected person, or by several body fluids that contain blood products, such as semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk. The virus must also have a way into the recipient, such as through a break in the skin, or through mucous membranes. Simply skin to skin with an infected person is not enough to cause an exposure, unless there is: a) a body fluid
of the infected person, and b) a break in the skin of the other person. HIV, however, is NOT carried in sweat, tears, or saliva, as is commonly believed. HIV is also a very weak virus, and cannot survive outside the body (for example, on counters or other flat surfaces), even while in blood form.
Knowing how to reduce the chance of exposure will lessen the fears of children. Very simply, avoidance of any body fluid will eliminate all possibility of acquiring AIDS. Most importantly, for children who are sexually active, the teaching of safe sex is paramount. Latex has been proven to provide a protective barrier against body fluids and the transmission of HIV. Body fluids are present in most sexual acts, even if not apparent, and transmission of HIV is possible in most situations if proper protection is not used.
As earlier stated, the easiest way to ease children s fears of AIDS, is to allow them to face their fears with full knowledge of the facts of the disease, it s transmission, and ways to prevent transmission. Attempting to hide or not talk about AIDS, simply makes it easier for children to fall victim to untrue myths, and more difficult for them to make informed, intelligent decisions
regarding this terrible disease. Fear arises from a lack of knowledge about something. The basis of most fears for children, is that of the unknown, and it is the duty of parents and teachers alike
to reduce those fears through education.
We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them
Livy (B.C. 59-17 A.D.)