In the pursuit of sexual success and fertility, teenagers have not been left behind. More and more teenagers are having unprotected sex, or that seems to be the impression.
What else is one expected to think when one’s eyesight is constantly sored with pregnant teenagers walking around? These days, it is almost impossible to go to markets, schools, or churches and not see atleast one of such teenagers. Sometimes, you just need to take a walk down the road, and a teenager with a bulging stomach is sure to be there.
Sex act used to be practised mainly by elders. Surprisingly, the case is the opposite currently. Teenagers have also jumped into the bandwagon of sex as they now form the majority of sex appealingness.
Young children in schools regard sex as a form of recreation, and this unfortunately has resulted in high teenage pregnancies. I cannot help but wonder if this proliferation is as a result of increasing sexual promiscuity in our society. This dangerous lifestyle is common.
Whatever the causes are, it is evident that the dangers of impregnating teenagers at present and in the future, are great and far-reaching.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, “Pregnancies among girls less than 18 years of age have irreparable consequences. It violates the rights of girls, with life-threatening consequences in terms of sexual and reproductive health, and poses high development costs for communities, particularly in perpetuating the cycle of poverty”. Health consequences include not yet being physically ready for pregnancy and childbirth leading to complications and malnutrition as the majority of adolescents tend to come from lower-income households.
The risk of maternal death for girls under age 15 is higher than for women in their twenties. Teenage pregnancy also affects girls’ education and income potential as many are forced to drop out of school which ultimately threatens future opportunities and economic prospects.
A study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy showed that nearly 1 in 4 teen mothers will experience another pregnancy within two years of having their first. Pregnancy and giving birth significantly increases the chance that these mothers will become high school dropouts.
Many teen parents do not have the intellectual or emotional maturity that is needed to provide for another life. Often, these pregnancies are hidden for months resulting in lack of adequate pre-natal care and dangerous outcomes for the babies. Most of the men who impregnate these teenagers do not take responsibilities for them while others opt for abortion.
Young mothers and their babies are at greater risk of contacting HIV and death. The World Health Organization estimates that the death following pregnancy is twice as high for women aged 15-19 than for those aged 20-24. The maternal mortality rate can be up to five times higher for girls aged 10-14 than for women aged 20-24.
Lack of education on safe sex is one of the major causes of teenage pregnancy. Many teenagers are not taught about methods of birth control and how to deal with peers who pressure them into having sex before they are ready. Many pregnant teenagers do not have any cognition of the central facts of sexuality.
The words ‘sex’ and ‘condoms’ are rated diabolical and vulgar. Parents dare not say it to the faces of their children. They hide behind the veil of Christianity, preaching abstinence-only sex education. Meanwhile, teenagers watch and read about sexual acts, and they are spurred to put it into practise.
When your girl-child brings back pregnancy home from school, you are flabbergasted. Why should you be flabbergasted? While you were inculcating the values of sex-abstinence, did you also teach her the ways of safe sex, just in case she defied you?
Inconsistent and/or incorrect use of condoms is also a problem. Adolescents may lack knowledge of, or access to conventional methods of preventing pregnancy, as they may be too embarrassed or frightened to seek such information. Young women are heavily influenced by negative, second-hand stories about methods of contraception from their friends and the media.
It is time for parents to ask themselves: ‘Do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts? Or do they just receive our leftover time and talents, after we have given our all to our church calling and professional pursuits?”.
Teenage pregnancies are often associated with social issues, including lower educational levels, higher rates of poverty and other poorer life outcomes. Teenage pregnancy is usually outside of marriage and carries a social stigma. Early pregnancy may combine with malnutrition and poor health care to cause medical problems.
In trying to find out why teenage pregnancy is on the high, a woman told me that teenagers become uncontrollable at a particular stage of their lives and it takes much concentration of parents to notice this and re-direct them, because once they are not put right at this stage, it is finished. “Age discrepancy between the teenage girls and the men who impregnate them is an important contributing factor. Teenage girls are in relationships with older boys, and in particular with older men, and they engage in riskier, more frequent and promiscuous sex”, she added.
A holistic approach is required in order to address teenage pregnancy. This means not focusing on changing the behaviour of girls, but addressing the underlying reasons of adolescent pregnancy such as poverty, gender inequality, peer pressure and coercion.
The approach should include providing age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education for all young people, investing in girls’ education, preventing child marriage and sexual violence, building gender-equitable society by empowering girls and engaging men and boys, ensuring adolescents access to sexual and reproductive health information, as well as services that welcome them and facilitate their choices. Abstinence-only sex education does not appear to be effective. Look around you, does it?
Help save our teenage girls and rescue them from this deadly peril. The call is for all well-meaning individuals and groups to put their resources to work in fighting a battle of psychological, physical, emotional and even spiritual dimensions. It will rescue us from the disaster of a lewd generation in the future.