In a world where drugs are commonplace in society, it is no wonder that the youth of today are struggling with the pressures of everyday living. The temptation to use drugs is virtually in their faces.
But in Bali there are groups to help the youths with the problems of drugs in their society and one such group is KISARA (Kita Sayang Remaja), a non-profit group established to help Balinese youth. KISARA helps not only with the problem of drugs but also arms young people with knowledge on reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, drug problems and other teen-related issues.
Komang Erviani wrote an excellent article in the Jakarta Post regarding KISARA and the problems faced by the youth of Bali in today's society:
Kisara keeps youth away from drugs and teen sex
Komang Erviani, Denpasar
It was love at first sight for Nadia and Armand, not their real names, when they met at a high school student camp program three months ago. One day Armand took the girl on a special date to his parent's villa at a resort area in Bali.
It was a full-moon weekend creating a romantic atmosphere in the villa. Unable to suppress his sexual desire Armand pushed Nadia to the bed and began to kiss her on her lips while his hands roamed all over Nadia's smooth skin.
Sixteen year old Nadia was really frightened and tried to get out of the villa. She shouted and screamed loudly. "It was a nightmarish experience and I was so afraid that I might get pregnant" Nadia told an advisor at KISARA (Kita
Sayang Remaja) a non-profit group established to help Balinese youth.
Another teenager told the advisor that her boyfriend often pressed his genitals against hers. "We did it frequently every Saturday night, sometimes in our bedrooms when our parents went out" she said. "Should I get a pregnancy test?"
Widely exposed to an influx of materials on sexuality, racy VCDs and DVDs and porn movies that can easily be downloaded from the Internet, teenagers in Bali are a soft target commented Dr. Oka Negara. "We can no longer close our eyes to this reality and have to arm ourselves with knowledge and compassion to accompany our children through this difficult period" he said. The questions above are only a few general examples. "There are many more problems faced by these teenagers including teenage pregnancies, abortion, drug abuse, etc." he said adding that the fact that Bali was one of world's most popular tourist destinations might have an impact on the lifestyle of the island's teens.
According to a survey conducted by KISARA between 2002 and 2005, two out of 10 teenagers from the 3,549 surveyed in Denpasar, Badung, Tabanan and Singaraja were already sexually active.
"Many of them did not have any idea of what HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases are" the doctor said on the sidelines of a youth camp at Dreamland Beach, Jimbaran.
Based on recent data from Bali's AIDS Prevention Commission it was estimated that 2,500 youngsters are active drug users and around 1,100 already have HIV.
Established on May 14 l994, KISARA was aimed at setting up a special forum where young people could share their experiences and help their friends when necessary. The program is intended to arm young people with knowledge on reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, drug problems and other teen-related issues.
KISARA invited young people to become "volunteers and peer-counsellors." "Young people usually feel more at ease when they talk to their peers rather than older people" added Dr. Oka.
Currently around 30 volunteers are working as teenage counsellors. Pramesemara, 21, a medical student at Udayana University has become KISARA's voice on the university's radio talk show program broadcast every Wednesday night.
Listeners include students, lecturers and parents. Together with three other staff Pram discusses issues pertinent to the teen world. "Sex is still a hot topic among listeners" Pram said.
Other topics cover the parent-child relationship. "One day I was so anxious. A teenage listener called us saying she felt hopeless and intended to commit suicide that night" Pram said. The girl lived with her father and a stepmother. "It was three years ago and my very first time on air. We tried very hard to advise her and to give motivation. But I really did not know what to do" recalled Pram.
Luh Sumiari, another volunteer has her own unique experiences as a teen counsellor. She works at KISARA office on Jl. Gatot Subroto, Denpasar, after her classes at medical school.
"I was quite shocked to learn that so many junior high school students have already had sex at the age of 13 to 15" said Sumiari.
Many teenagers call her by phone seeking advice while others come to the office. "I do appreciate it when they come here for counselling" Sumiari said.
KISARA has trained more than 500 teenagers as peer-counsellors and expects to recruit more. Its programs range from radio talk shows to seminars and youth camps.
Visiting village youth organizations known as Seka Teruna across Bali is important to share with all members of the Banjar (traditional Balinese village organization).
It is no secret that porn movies and alcoholic drinks are easily available in many remote villages in Bali. Drug abuse is common in these rural areas.
"We also target parents, teachers, religious leaders as well as office employees" Dr. Oka explained.
Teen problems are not as simple as people think. "It is like a spider web. Times have changed. The rapid growth of technology has enabled teenagers living in both urban and rural areas to gain access to similar information" he said.
He urged parents and teachers to be more open-minded when dealing with young people. "The old conservative approach to child rearing no longer works well when dealing with youth" he said.