Simple Panacea to Teen Pregnancy Nightmare
By Eliazar Babu (GM Contributor)
Recently, when it was reported that thousands of teenage girls were pregnant, we acted with alacrity both online and offline, shouting ourselves hoarse. Since March, about 4,00 girls have been impregnated in Machakos County. The numbers in other counties are equally bad. That left me scratching my unkempt head in search of answers.
Teen pregnancy, or as others refer to as ‘early sexual debut’, is not a new phenomenon but four thousand is a lot of girls who are pregnant before their time. Whether those numbers are genuine and whatever prompted the entity that released them, anyone who does not see teenage pregnancies as a problem is simply living in denial. We’ve gone to great lengths pointing fingers left, right and centre but we have failed to ask the parenting authority about the provision of sexual and reproductive health information and services to adolescents.
First, we have to understand that girls mature faster and, in a world, where teens carry mischief in their pockets, we are bound to experience a crisis such as an upsurge of teen pregnancies. If they don’t have smartphones, mischief is easily available to them in the home. I’m talking about everyday programming and content consumption. We are living in a hyper-sexualized age where sex sells. Nothing sells without some kind of sensual connotation attached to it. It’s a tall order for parents and guardians who have now taken the roles of police officers; monitoring everything their children see and hear. Blocking inappropriate content from sight and ear shot. But there are things you can shield your child from, others you will just have to explain.
In matters sex and sexuality, a hidden approach is pointless. Sex is not bad. We are sexual beings and we get sensual at times. What teens need to understand is that sex comes with responsibility. Sex is like a golden thread that changes things on every level. I think the answer to teenage pregnancy is simple. Contraception. If teenage pregnancy is isolated as a problem on its own, contraception is a no brainer and this is the conversation we need to start having from our homes then cascading into every space where two or three are gathered. Getting pregnant, having a baby, is just about sex. It’s no more complicated than that and contraception is the silver bullet in this case.
However, teen pregnancy is a complex social issue influenced by many socio-economic factors and is accompanied by a broad spectrum of moral judgments. Teens may be at risk of pregnancy for a number of reasons; each reason needs its own solution. Most teens don`t want to be pregnant, however, lack of information, poor access to birth control or birth control failure can lead to an unplanned teen pregnancy. Some teens choose to become pregnant. Others are more ambivalent, i.e. they are sexually active but do not use birth control consistently. Teens in each of these situations need different types of support and information. Approaches to teen pregnancy prevention would differ for each of these groups.
Above all, we need to promote a sense of responsibility regarding sexual choices. This begins with comprehensive sex education. We need to think afresh what kind of world we want to live in.