Dealing with teenage pregnancy

Every time the issue of teenage pregnancy is raised, there is bound to be interest inched out, and differing opinions extended.

There is a tendency to shrug aside the harsh reality on the ground, for what is deemed acceptable to the masses.

Yesterday we raised the issue of the vanua of Namosi’s plan to work with relevant stakeholders to eradicate teenage pregnancies in the province.

The issue was raised during the Namosi Provincial Council meeting on Wednesday, an issue it regards as a major concern along with road conditions and infrastructure.

The chairman of the meeting Ratu Romanu Matanitobua said reports on the rising number of teenage pregnancies in villages could be the result of lack of awareness programs there. He said it was good that the issue was raised at that level for discussion and he said it needed to be addressed.

In the overwhelming surge of information that attempts to dissect the issue, what should matter is people making well informed decisions to address it.

Ultimately, that will be the cornerstone of any campaign to effectively address it.

For in that view sits an acceptance of the fact that we could be staring at an issue of massive proportions.

So how do we even start?

And where do we start from?

The traditional view would probably lean towards a strong base on the home front.

But given the unsettling view that it is already taking place, in some cases, despite this ‘needed’ attention on the home front, one would be forgiven for placing a question mark there.

So do we first address the home front then? How do we add value to the family structure? Could this be a sign of a fragmented society?

What are contributing factors that we should be mindful of anyway?

Could there be a link to digital technology and perhaps greater accessibility to information and images on the internet, or even in movies for instance? Do we accept this as a fact of life in the face of the many improvements we enjoy today.

The reality is that teenagers are getting pregnant.

This draws in the need for greater awareness on the crucial role of boys and men.

The fact that three in every 100 teenage girls get pregnant in Fiji every year could probably equate to the same for males making a teenage female pregnant every year.

When you translate that to the bigger picture, we probably will get a better grasp of a target range perhaps, leaving aside marital status and age.

That’s where awareness campaigns can then be focused.

Perhaps we should get behind a concerted drive to educate our young men and women to understand and appreciate the impact of teenage pregnancy, to value relationships, and to take responsibility for their actions, and to allow our girls the right to enjoy their teenage years and not be burdened as mothers before their time.

For that to happen, it will require a concerted effort on our part, as parents, guardians and responsible adults to do the right thing.

And that means changing how we view issues such as sexual and reproductive health.

This isn’t an easy issue to fix. It isn’t an issue we can afford to shrug aside either.

More Stories