Addressing teenage pregnancy

2015-05-14 06:00
PHOTO: supplied

The high teenage pregnancy rate shows the youth (not pictured) are not practising safe sex.

PHOTO: supplied The high teenage pregnancy rate shows the youth (not pictured) are not practising safe sex.

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STATISTICS indicate that the number of deliveries by teenagers at government hospitals in the Msunduzi Municipality was 1 380 at the end of 2014.

Director­ at LifeLine Crisis Centre, Sinikiwe­ Biyela said the high teenage pregnancy rate shows the youth are not practising safe sex.

“When LifeLine counsellors visit schools and speak to pupils we often find it is not the lack of knowledge of the importance of using condoms and being aware of sexually transmitted diseases - they are curious and want to follow the crowd. It’s not easy to fight off peer pressure at that age so when you get children who have low self-esteem they look for acceptance among their peers.”

Biyela said that issues such as these should to be addressed by parents­ who need to play an active role when their children are young.

“Peer pressure starts to set in when the child reaches the end of primary school so issues of sexuality and sexual reproductive health need to be addressed at that stage.”

LifeLine’s programme, Families Matter, was developed to train parents­ how to deal with issues of sexuality­ with their preadolescent children that some find difficult to address­.

“We have identified the preadolescent group as the target because after years of trying to intervene in high schools and teach teenagers about safe sex, it’s time to try something new.

“This means that by the time they reach high school they are emotionally ready to deal with peer pressure and curiosity they will encounter,” said Biyela.

Speaking about the statistics, Biyela­ said it seems to be a pandemic across all races groups and affects rural­ and urban households.

The online teenage support group that LifeLine has formed focuses on the mother, the father and their parents.

“We educate them [mothers] about the changes they are going through and help form a dialogue between them and counsellors. We also to talk about being pregnant as teenagers because they need that support and a platform to express what they are going through emotionally.”

Often people only focus on the teenage mother, and the father is forgotten she said.

“They too need to be educated about the repercussions so they do not go out and do it to another girl.”

The support group has been running for one year and has gone from strength to strength.

“The problem is bigger than what we see on paper. The first step is to change the mindset of young people and also change adult mindsets, this includes parents, nursing staff and the community.

“We need to change our attitude without judging because methods of the past have not worked,” said Biyela­.

For more information about LifeLine or other programmes, contact the office on 033 342 4477 or email director@lifeonline.co.za

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