Addressing teenage pregnancy

2015-04-30 14:31
PHOTO: sourced

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

PHOTO: sourced Peer pressure starts to set in when the child is reaching the end of primary school so issues of sexuality and sexual reproductive health need to be addressed at that stage.

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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.

Speaking to Maritzburg Fever, director­ at LifeLine Crisis Centre, Sinikiwe­ Biyela, said that the high teenage pregnancy rate shows that 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 is reaching 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 the 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 both on the mother and the father as well as their parents.

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

She said often people only focus on the teenage mother, and the father is forgotten.

“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 any of the other programmes, contact the office on 033 342 4477 or email director@lifeonline.co.za

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