Why Focus On Teenage Pregnancy?
Teenage pregnancy is defined as a teenage girl ,usually within the ages 13-19 becoming pregnant.This Years KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) showed the gripping figures in the rise of teenage pregnancy in Kenya,nine girls had delivered babies during that period.In Kilifi alone,there\’s an alarm over a report on 14,000 teen pregnancy this year. Women Working with Women being an organisation that advocates for AGYW (Adolescent Girls and Young Women) sexual health and rights, this therefore poses as a concern to us which warrants for an immediate attention.
What are the factors that contribute to the rise of teenage pregnancy and Why should we care about the phenomenon? Adolescents who initiate sex early are more likely to have been forced and to suffer sexual and gender based violence.Teenage girls are the most abused age group of women. Rape at this age is in most cases by a person who the girl trusts. This can be a male relative, including biological fathers and step fathers, teachers and domestic workers, the question is why are the perpetrators not in prison for defiling these girls? Teen pregnancy is also linked to Poverty, how? Some girls in poverty stricken families practice transactional sex which is an exchange of gifts for sex to cater for their basic necessities. Lack of knowledge, Teenagers who are uneducated about sex are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy. Many times, teens do not have the knowledge needed to make informed and responsible decisions about whether or not to engage in sexual activity that can alter their life.Adolescents are more likely to suffer and die from pregnancy and delivery complications because they are physiologically underdeveloped. Teenagers who realize they are pregnant are more likely to procure an unsafe abortion, suffer and die from complications from unsafe abortion,Adolescent mothers are more likely to give birth to babies with low infant weight, and at increased risk of death and malnutrition.
What should be done to reduce teenage pregnancies? There\’s need for the government to Increase access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents.Access to information, education and services is central in the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) among young people. It enables young people make informed choices on sexuality matters, hence reduce teenage pregnancies.The need to reduce poverty levels through effective implementation of poverty reduction policies in the country. Teen need to have comprehensive understanding of abstinence and it is also important that teens be provided with broad information contraceptive techniques.The government also need to implement relevant laws to address the issue.More needs to be done to stem the flow of teenage girls into the family way. Living in denial and burying our heads in the sand will not cut it
What is the prevalence of pregnancy in schools in Kenya?
Cases of pregnancy among young girls is high. Teen pregnancy and motherhood rates stand at 18 percent. About one in every five adolescent girls (aged 15 to 19) has either had a live birth, or is pregnant with her first child. Rates increase with age: from 3 percent among girls at 15 years old, to 40percent among girls at 19 years.
Causes of teen pregnancy in Kenya
- Peer pressure
Most young people trust their peers and are easily influenced to engage in sexual encounters as a way of belong to a group. This may not be spelled out as a ritual but is expected of every member of the group. This is one of the main factors leading to increased cases of teenage pregnancy in Kenya.
Teenage girls are the most abused age group of women. Rape at this age is in most cases by a person who the girl trusts. This can be a male relative, including biological fathers and step fathers, teachers and domestic workers.
- Cultural Practices
Some communities in Kenya marry off young girls from age 10 to men old enough to be their parents. At this tender age, these girls have not being exposure to any form of sexually education and have no clue of what their husbands expect from them. They become baby making machines, so why won’t this be a major contributor to increased cases of Pregnancy in Kenya.
- Broken families
Lack of a stable family structure push the girls to look for security else where and this is when they get lured in relationships which have devastating effects on their lives.
Due to poverty, girls are forced by their parents to sell their bodies as a source of revenue for the family, just to cater for their basic needs.
- Lack of sexual awareness
There is a big difference between the society we were brought up in and the current society in terms of sexual awareness. When I was growing up, sex education was a taboo, we could not talk about it in public not even in schools and neither at home. So most of us were not taught about the changes our bodies were going through not until we joined high school and during biology class that we understood our bodies. This is why majority of us now as parents will not talk to our children about sex and leave them to be educated by media and their peers. This leads to experimenting, so why won’t cases of Pregnancy in Kenya be on the increase.
- Abuse of alcohol and drugs
Young people are abusing drugs rampantly and of course this will increase the sexual activities. This is a major contributor to increased cases of under age and unwanted pregnancies.
This a burden all of us as members of the society have to bear, why can’t we be our sisters keeper. We have sisters, daughters, nieces and grandchildren who need us to enlighten them on the dangers of engaging in sexual activities.
Strategies to reduce teen pregnancy
- Introduce sex education in schools and churches.
It is high time we should open up and talk about this important topic that we have for long been shying away from. Since it is apparent that parents are not comfortable discussing sex-related topics with their children, it is important that the government through the Ministry of education considers incorporating sex education in our curriculum. This can be done by certified sex education experts from the Ministry of Health, trained teachers, religious leaders and other volunteer groups with the knowledge of sex education. Each school should have at least one lesson based on sex education every week, most appropriately on Saturdays. The education should encompass lessons on menstruation cycle and how it affects an adolescent’s sexual life. They should be taught about social conduct, how and to what extent they should relate to the opposite sex. It’s also crucial that teenagers are sensitized on the use of contraceptives at early stages without fear, it is for their safety and is much better than total ignorance.
Churches should conduct special sessions with the youth to educate them on a holistic lifestyle in line with the teachings of the bible.
- Parental love, care, and guidance.
Parental love is very important in boosting children’s self-esteem and giving them a sense of belonging.
Parents should learn expressing love to their children through words and gifts.
It helps cure desperation for love from the child who would otherwise be easily swayed by men who often extend a heart of pretentious love that is mostly sex driven.
Parental care and guidance will help bring up the child in a proper, well-mannered way that will her understand the kind of environment she is living in and the nature of the people that there exist.
Parents, for instance, should limit the child’s access to electronic and digital devices that carry explicit content. They should also determine the kind of TV programs and shows that they should watch and to what extent.
If we can religiously embrace and practice these strategies in our daily life, I am convinced that with time we will successfully overcome this menace and realize a society that is healthy and morally upright.