Thursday, 27 June 2013

Teen pregnancy

Teen Pregnancy
26 June 2013

Teen pregnancy.  For me it is a very sad occurrence.  One that happens quite often actually.

I am overcome with empathy for families who have to deal with this.  The ripple effect is just so very, very huge.  In fact, I suspect that some of those ripples may last a lifetime.  I can but only imagine the shock and heartache that must surely accompany the realisation that a teen is pregnant.  Not only for her, but for her parents too.  In fact her whole support system.  And that of the father and his family too.

I am the result of a teenage pregnancy.  And given the fact that I am forty years old, I reckon those ripples back then were probably more like big waves.  A tsunami of sorts.

My folks were very brave, held their heads high and simply got on with life.  I suspect they were the cause of much fodder for the ever busy rumour mill.  They chose to get married, even though my grandparents had offered to raise me.  My dad was successful in obtaining a weekend pass from the army for the wedding.  Which I reckon was probably just as well, as he was stationed far away and most of his weekend pass was spent travelling to and from the army base he was stationed at.  Sadly for my mom, she received a lovely letter from the teacher's college where she was doing her training, asking her to leave.  Admirable is the fact that she did just that.  Went off, had her baby and started studying again at college when I was just ten days old.  As mentioned in a previous blog, I apparently started sleeping through the night at ten days old too.  A suspicious coincidence if you ask me…..

I somehow think that teen pregnancy is on the rise.  And contrary to popular belief, it is not just happening in certain communities.  Teen pregnancy is not discerning.  It can happen to anyone.  And I think that any parent who thinks that their child is immune or protected is sadly mistaken.  And this goes for boys and girls.  Because though girls are the ones falling pregnant, they most certainly aren’t getting that way on their own.
Another home truth is the fact that teen pregnancy is not the only phenomenon on the rise.  The abortion rate is escalating wildly too.  And I wonder how safe an alternative this is?  One sees advertisements for same-day service with regards to abortions stuck on every imaginable surface.  Lamp poles, refuse bins, Stop street signs, etc.  Surely reputable doctors would have no need to advertise in this manner?  Or perhaps reputable doctors don't perform abortions.  And therein lies the difference.

When Luke was in Gr 7 in Primary School, the kids did a course, called Choices, sponsored by the school.  It taught them the basics of sex education, the risk of diseases (especially with our HIV and Aids statistics being so shocking), as well as a few home truths about the escalating rise in teen pregnancy.  Personally, I had thought that it was quite young for them to be exposed to a third party, other than their parents and immediate teachers to give them education on such a sensitive matter.  Until we were informed by our class teacher, that this is exactly the right age.  And that somehow receiving education in this manner from professionals, knowledgeable on the topic, amidst their peers was super effective.  Furthermore, the largest percentages of teens giving birth, happened in June/July of their Grade 8 year (the old Standard 6).  Which meant that these kids were having unprotected sex during their September holidays in Grade 7, when they were just twelve and thirteen years old.  It scared the bejeebers out of me.  Holy-friggin-moly!!!
I think that another factor involved is the promiscuity of kids these days.  They seem to try so hard to appear to be bigger and older than what they really are.  They are acting, speaking and dressing way beyond their years.  Why?  And more importantly why do parents allow this?  I would not want my thirteen year old going to a party wearing a dress short enough to look like a belt, a face plastered with too much make-up and perilously perched on heels nearly impossible to walk in.  And the boys are most certainly not innocent either.
The most effective form of birth control is abstinence.  But teenagers will always push those boundaries.  And so perhaps proper sex education and advocating safe sex is the best option.  Also instilling in them a sense of the huge lifelong responsibility attached to raising a child.  Their lives will be irrevocably changed.  Even more so than they can ever imagine.

A very good friend of mine has a teenage daughter.  And one of the daughter’s friends had a baby – a few years ago already.  Apparently she is taking a fair amount of responsibility, though her mother is practically helping her to raise her little baby daughter.  It makes sense, as she is still in school and has to finish her most basic education at least.  The father and his family are also contributing to the costs of raising this baby and are fairly involved too.  Still my friend says that her daughter and friends, look at this baby as a cute accessory.  They dress her up really nicely and pose for photos with her, like she’s a real live doll.  Little hats, and cutie outfits, etc.  But then they go home.  And while they can all go out to parties and hang out with their friends, the mother of this child cannot.  Even though she is technically still a child herself.

I also think that a huge problem is that teenagers often see sex as a valuable commodity.  One that can be traded for popularity, amongst others.  Fidelity and faithfulness is not a given.  And quite often kids that are indulging are not even in a relationship.  They hook up at parties, with other teenagers they barely even know.

Perhaps playing with lit dynamite sticks would be safer?  I think that maybe the best thing we can do, is to be watchful over our children.  To guide them on the right path.  To engage them in communication and make them aware of the consequences of their actions.

Because no matter how you look at, kids shouldn’t be raising kids.  They should still just be kids.

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Oh so true

There are various ad campaigns out there, doing their bit to help prevent teen pregnancy

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