Fourteen year old Yah-yah was raped by her mother’s “friend”. As a result, she has an unwanted pregnancy. She is angry with her mother because she didn’t do anything to protect her. People in society are misjudging her. Yah-yah is frustrated and on the verge of suicide. Teenage pregnancy has been a phenomenon since biblical ages. Dr. Michelle Golland stated, The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. There are 750,000 teen pregnancies annually. The Caribbean has not escaped this plague. A study done by a fourth year medical student at the University of the West Indies reported that pregnant unmarried teenagers form the biggest single social problem in Jamaica. From the study it was concluded that teenagers were responsible for 16% of the total births in Jamaica, i.e. for some 9,300 babies. There are many factors contributing to the high incidence of early pregnancy: (1) Lack of Parenting Guidance; (2)Lack of basic education; (3) Inadequate knowledge about safe sex (4) Exploitation by older men. Firstly, the root cause of teenage pregnancy is the lack of parenting guidance. Often times, parents do not permit their children to talk about sex. Also some parents go far as providing their children with false information about sex.
For instance, the child may ask “Where do babies come from?” The mother may reply, “Babies come from the sky.” The lack of parenting guidance in relation to educating their children about sex was illustrated in a study conducted in Jamaica by S.S Gooden. Gooden found that only 45% of his sample claimed to have had any sex education at home. S.S Gooden also contended that some girls was so eager to obtain information that they read books. One girl reported that her mother explained to her about menstrual cycle, after it had begun. It is important to note, that information about sex is gathered outside the home by children. Sources where information are gathered includes book, magazines, and the cinema, discussion with friends or overhearing adult conversations. In S.S Gooden’s study it was stated that nearly one-third were of the opinion that school was the proper place for providing sex education but the majority however was in the favor of home. The present relationship between parents and children do not provide adequate information about sex.
Thus, children are experimenting with sex without being aware of the likely implications. Secondly, lack of basic education may lead to teenage pregnancy. Shirley Clarke interviewed a total of 40 teenaged unmarried mothers between the ages of 14 and 20. Though all of the girls questioned by Clarke had attended primary school at some time, the majority had left school, mainly for economic reasons. Only 17% had attempted to extend their education. The lack of a good basic education makes these girls venerable as they may become dependent on older men to satisfy their economic needs. In many instances, the older man expect a returned “favor” from the girls. As a result, the girl may become pregnant. The lack of a good basic educations means that adolescents have not had the benefits of school influences in helping them to develop other moral values. Also they have acquired few interest to fill their leisure time. The girls in Clarke sample reported few interests. Clarke stated that reading, sewing and going to the cinema appeared to be their main occupations. 20% gave sleeping as one of their hobbies.
In most instances, girls who has experienced pregnancy are unable to attract jobs because they lack the basic qualifications. Thus, the unemployment rate continues to be high among this group. Additionally, in America, more than half of the nation’s high school students have sex, reported the center for disease control in 1992. An increase in the number of sexually active teens appears with each grade: 40 percent at grade 11, and 72 percent at grade 12. Nineteen percent of all high school students and 29 percent of seniors reported having had four or more sexual partners. The reports of sexually active teens is quite alarming but however what is more alarming is that most adolescents do not know about safe sex. As a result, they probably have no access to traditional methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Furthermore, another leading cause of teenage pregnancy is sexual exploitation by older men, as you saw in the skit. Rape and sexual exploitation causes unwanted early pregnancies. In Grenada, forty five percent of households are female headed, in cases, teenage girls living in these households may desire a male figure to show them love in absence of their fathers.
As a result, teenage girls dating older men are more likely to become pregnant before they reach womanhood. Lastly, by nature humans are sexual beings, as a result, we tend to sexually express ourselves through the medium of sex. Therefore, it is important that social institutions such as the family, the church, the education system, the law system et al, take actions to prevent teenage pregnancy. Parents or Guardians should not evade their children from participating in sexual discussions. They should try as much as possible to impart information concerning sex to their children. The education system should take the task upon themselves to provide sex educate to students. The church is one of the oldest institutions in society and its function has declined in recent times. With society becoming more secularized it is important for the church to develop new strategies to appeal to adolescents about controlling their sexually urges (the ideal of premarital chastity is not fully accepted by adolescences) instead of just preaching summons about the immorality of having sex before marriage.
Today, Planned Parenthood advocates wants the removal of laws requiring parental consent as notification for girls under the age of eighteen to have an abortion. This step may not be the best solution as a Christchurch Health and Development study revealed Forty-one percent of women had become pregnant on at least one occasion prior to age 25, with 14.6% having an abortion. Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance use disorders. Many people hold the perception that giving adolescents contraceptives encourages them to have sex but the numbers of teens having sex without contraceptives is alarming as you heard earlier, as a result, the legal system should implement laws to allow parents to give their children contraceptives to not only prevent unwanted pregnancies but also STDs. In closing, we hear the proverb ‘the youths are the future of tomorrow’, therefore the traditional institutions needs to curb the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy, as it can jeopardize social order in society.