Raising the sex topic

TEENAGE pregnancy is a touchy subject. Does it have to be that though?

It is something we tend to push to the back of our minds, placing it alongside sensitive issues we find difficulty talking about.

Again, does it have to be like that though?

Does it even matter that some people find it uncomfortable to discuss it?

The plan by the vanua of Namosi to work with relevant stakeholders to eradicate teenage pregnancies is interesting. It regards this as a major concern along with road conditions and infrastructure.

The issue was raised during the Namosi Provincial Council meeting on Wednesday.

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.

In July this year, we raised the same issue of teenage pregnancy.

We spoke about the revelation that about three in every 100 teenage girls got pregnant every year in Fiji.

That meant about 2160 or 3 per cent of 72,000 girls in the 15-18 age groups get pregnant every year.

Then there was the revelation that teenage girls in Pacific Island countries are twice as likely to marry between the ages of 15 and 19 compared with their male peers.

To that end, it becomes imperative that there is a concerted drive to invest in campaigns to protect the health of our young girls.

That means embracing the need for them to understand and value sexual and reproductive health, and enable them to receive a quality education and expand economic opportunities. The issue of teenage pregnancy and its prevention are topics of interest.

Opinions will differ on the impact of this public health issue and strategies to address it. If we are to place emphasis on prevention, then what sort of information would be appropriate and what do we specifically target?

Should there be a concerted effort to address risks and the consequences of their behaviour?

Surely, we should engage the masses to aid in the prevention of teenage pregnancies.

Can we afford to overlook the role every teenager, parent, guardian and community must play in its prevention?

Is it just about sex then?

Or could this issue be strongly linked to young people taking risks? Sexuality is an integral part of teenage pregnancy, so do we care enough to consider factors that are nonsexual and use these to fight it?

Could it be that young people with a vision to the future where economic success and a sound family base serve as stabilisers, will invariably sway on to a less risky path?

There are issues of empowerment, expectations and how parents and guardians fuel these expectations. Then there are issues linked to values and how much teenagers appreciate them. We have much to learn and understand.

We’ve said this before. If a teenager doesn’t finish high school, without the support of her family the chances are high she will struggle in life. This is why we must face the harsh reality that this is an issue, we must address.

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