• September 20th, 2018
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Is there room for a pregnant teenager?

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Opinions

This article seeks to give an overview of what causes the increase of teenage pregnancies in Namibia. The increase in number of teenagers, who become pregnant each year, especially in Namibia, has become a topic of serious concerns within the whole society. Different sources quoted alarming statistics: in 2007, there was 1465 pregnancy-related school dropout in Namibia. Just five months into this school year 2018, the Oshana and Ohangwena regions have both recorded 232 teenage pregnancies (The Namibian of May 31, 2018); The //Kharas Health Region recorded during the period from January to March 2018, a total of 773 pregnancies of which 123 (16 percent) were classified as teenage pregnancies. In Kunene Region, 42 teenage pregnancies were recorded in 2017 below the 15 years age group. This numbers are likely to substantially underestimate the true situation magnitude. The phenomenon has become widely spread that it’s now a social problem. When examined closely, it looks as if there is no single answer to account for the rising teenage pregnancy. Rather, it becomes apparent that there are many interacting variables that may be taken into account. This ugly phenomenon has generated a lot of concern and we are therefore very eager to find the causes and effect of the increase of teenage pregnancy, since girls, in their teens, are getting pregnant frequently and facing many problems, in which health complications is the most serious one. They incur the risk of succumbing to prostitution instead of good housewives and move around with elderly men known as “sugar daddies”. They lose their bride prize because of the teenage pregnancy at an early age and face difficulties during pregnancy and delivery. Given these alarming statistics, the Education Sector Pregnancy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy was signed on April 12, 2012 by the former Deputy Minister of Education. Six guiding principles govern this policy. 1. Right to education: This a constitutional right protecting the affected child from any form of discrimination on any basis (sex, pregnancy, parenthood, etc.), 2. Prevention: the policy considers inappropriate any punishment of the pregnant learner but encourages any other appropriate preventive measures, e.g. family planning provision, etc.; 3. Information: Sexual and reproductive matters are to be brought into the student education to enable them to take informed decisions; 4. Respect of the right to freedom of choice for both boys and girls, respect of individual’s dignity; 5. Support the pregnant learners to complete their education, taking in account the health and welfare of the newborn; 6. Respect of culture and family: The policy is meant to be flexible to maximise educational opportunities for pregnant learners and learner-parents, allowing different family and cultural values to determine the timing and manners in which learners take advantage of the opportunities offered. It is worth mentioning that some regions seem to face challenges implementing this policy according to the Namibian dated June 5, 2018. As stated in Sacker and Neuhoff, “although many teenage pregnancies occur out of wedlock, a vast majority of teenage mothers are married by their early twenties”. Some parents force their teenage daughters in early marriage before they become psychologically mature to face parenthood. Thus, most of them become pregnant teenagers before they get to understand the emotional feelings. Early marriage leads to early child bearing, continuous pregnancies and resulting in large family, deepening the cycle of poverty. Lack of a complete parental care including mono-parental household is a crucial factor adversely influencing the behaviours of children. This general agreement of opinion emphasises the importance of the role of parent in the formative years of a child. Children, as dependent beings in all respects (childhood days), have the right to be given the right kind of instructions and parental supervision and guidance if they should behave in socially acceptable ways of the society. Failure to give them both proper guidance and control is, psychologically a form of grave deprivation comparable, in some ways, to lack of love and affection of the child. And if such deprivation is not looked into in time, or at all, it will lead the child to ugly behaviours that may make the child become deviant in society. Cohen (1955), states “the world outside the family is a crucial factor in the deviant behaviours”. The school is part of the environment. There is a tendency for the children to be influenced in what they observe, smoking, alcohol, drug use, fighting, foul language, etc. Friends can influence others depending on the type of environment. If a child lives in a well-organised environment and goes to a school where deviant behaviour is not seen or allowed, that child would have decent friend. If the environment from home, surrounding and school is bad, friends will learn the deviant behaviours. Scalt (1954) confirms the view the children learn to become delinquent or deviant by becoming members of groups in which deviant behaviour is practiced. Mays (1954), believes that “togetherness is an important factor in human development, the very desire to associate to other children and to own their respect and affection can lead to deviant behaviours”. All this can be due to the environment in which the child lives. Teenage pregnancy is said to be a deviant behavior, especially out of wedlock, because the society has called it a labelling theory of deviant behaviours, which starts in the sixties, concentrates on reaction to rule behaving of labeling behaviours by society. Deviant is a consequence of the name of the behaviours, once wrong or right of the society. Effects of teenage pregnancies Pregnancy and motherhood are the major reason that some learners leave school. Most of the female dropout from school are as a result of pregnancy, marriage and economic status of parents. The teenagers ability to return back to school after childbirth and catch-up will be difficult. Psychological drop in self-motivation to pursue education. The teenagers who postpone childbirth have a greater amount of self-motivation and support/help in the family and peer group. For teenage mother, family background, place a unique and ever important role in school completion. Those girls from more advanced families, few siblings, a father with formal education, and intact family have a better chance of being supported emotionally and giving a family member accept some of the responsibilities of child bearing. In light of this, a good starting point is an integrated committee comprising of the ministries such as youth and sport, education, health, gender, private organisations, to draw up a plan to face jointly the problem. Such a plan should include a well-thought out family law based on the African tradition of the family and the child.
2018-06-29 09:52:38 2 months ago
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