Teens, sex and babies

Nowadays it is not shocking to find a 12-year-old mother, something which was frowned upon in the olden days, but not anymore. One would ask what young kids are doing instead of focusing on their studies. I wish I had the answer to that, but what I do know is that young girls and boys are having sex and the number of young mothers is on the rise. Sex education is freely available out there but the message is apparently not hitting home. I went out and spoke to young mothers trying to find out how come they became young mothers- of course they had sex- but trying to understand if they knew about sex education,  were they forced or was it just carelessness. Often we talk about them and not to or with these young girls. Perhaps that is where we are missing the point.

Ignoring common sense

Lelethu, 18, got pregnant at the age of 16 and gave birth at age 17. She says that she was not on contraceptives when she fell pregnant and did not even think that she would fall pregnant even though she knew that having unprotected sex can make one pregnant. She just did not think that it could be her. Sometimes her partner would use condoms and sometimes not. Contracting sexually transmitted diseases is something that never crossed her mind as well. The father of the child was 23 years at the time, surely older and wise enough to have known to and use a condom. This was her first sexual encounter with a man and she fell pregnant. Some of challenges she has faced are financial as she cannot provide enough for her daughter and she sometimes misses school because she has no one to leave the child with. The father of the child fortunately supports the child even though they are no longer in a relationship. She has no plan to let her child be raised by the boyfriend’s mother because she wants to raise her child herself. She is aware that she has disappointed her family but she still loves her child and plans to continue with her studies.

Instant adulthood

Maza fell pregnant at 21 and had to leave school. The father of her child was 36. She was on the pill but still fell pregnant and she does not know how it happened. She had to leave school and look for ways to provide for her child and younger sister after her mother passed away and her relatives could not help her out. The father of the child does not support her. Her sister, 18, has also fallen pregnant and she now has that to deal with as well.

Thando, 19, is a young man who is not proud of being a young father but he had unprotected sex. He is planning to take care of his child when he starts working and is aware that he should not have been practising unsafe sex.

According to Love Life more than 80 000 teenagers fall pregnant and 10 000 undergo a termination of pregnancy in South Africa each year. Research shows that many young people feel alienated from South Africa’s public healthcare facilities, see clinics as a place for only the very sick, and perceive health providers to be unsympathetic or intimidating, especially on sexual health issues. This indicates that urgent measures are needed to stop this worrying trend.

Read more by Masanda Peter

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24

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