Teenage Pregnancy: The role Of The community. Teenage pregnancy is the pregnancy in a female under the age of 20.
It generally occurs when girls in their teens engage in unprotected sexual intercourse after the start of ovulation, resulting in conception.
Teenage pregnancy is a global problem. Every year, an estimated 21 million girls aged 15 – 19 years in developing regions become pregnant and approximately 12 million of them give birth. (WHO, 2014).
These alarming rates of pregnancies occur for a number of reasons.
- In some regions of the world, early marriage is the norm. Girls, as young as 12 years, are sent to the homes of their husbands and begin bearing children almost immediately.
- There is also the problem of limited access to proper sex education and knowledge and/or access to contraceptives. In African societies, open sexual discussions are considered to be inappropriate and indecent, sex is rarely discussed at home, in school or at religious gatherings. This makes it difficult for teenagers to obtain proper information about sex. Thus, uninformed teenagers with an early sexual debut could end up with unplanned pregnancies.
- Poverty contributes to the problem. Girls raised in poor homes or internally displaced persons/refugee camps tend to trade sex for their basic needs. Sometimes, this is done with the consent of their parents; these parents send their young daughters to go hawking in the streets, where they get exposed to men that exploit their vulnerability.
- Perhaps the most perturbing cause of teenage pregnancies is forced sex. A good number of adolescent girls fall victim to rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
Considerable effort is being channeled towards preventing teenage pregnancy. But comparatively little is done towards managing pregnant teens and the children they bear.
When a girl gets pregnant, what should be the reaction of her family?
What is the role of her immediate community? Should the community support her?
There have been opposing views to the level of support and responsibility the community should assume for pregnant teenagers and their children.
On the one hand, some persons feel that teenagers should take responsibility for their own actions and the society should not be made to shoulder the consequences of their indiscretions. In some parts of Nigeria, when an unmarried teen gets pregnant, it is considered a great dishonour and dent on the family name! Some parents ostracize their daughters, others force them to get married before they are delivered of the baby. The community also tend to frown at teenage mothers, they are generally given the cold treatment or become subjects of gossip and ridicule. In fact, some politicians argue that, it is wastage of taxpayers’ money to support pregnant teens or their children.
On the other hand, it is important to note that a community is made up of individual members. Just like the human body, a community is only as good as its members, if a few members are hurt, the entire community suffers. Hence, if teenage girls are left entirely without support, they then to drop out of school, become less productive, unemployable and generally become less useful to the community. The children raised by these young, single parents tend to become antisocial, criminally-oriented and damaging to the society at large.
Therefore, it is imperative that, the immediate family members of teenage mothers and the community in which they live, continue to increase their level of support and care for adolescent girls. The government, through child-protection, foster care and social services, need to also a play a role in supporting pregnant teens and children of teenagers. It should be the goal of every member of the society to see teenage mothers return to school and make a success of their lives. If teenage mothers are supported and they become a success, it’ll have a ripple effect on the children they bear, their families and eventually, the entire community.
In life, sometimes we fall, but we do not remain fallen for too long, we lean on someone/something and rise back up.
Help that teenage mum in your community, who is at her low today, to rise again!