What first comes to mind when you hear of teenage pregnancies? This question signifies so many things to different people. A typical African parent sees it as a disgrace and a taboo. A majority of the victims in regret and frustration, try to take away the lives of the innocent children growing within them. I would say all of the above opinions are nothing but the reality. However, as a health personnel, the question should be, what’s the real image behind every teenage pregnancy? This may be a difficult question with a biased answer but the truth is, everyone is guilty of every teenager who gets pregnant.

Oh yes! The parents, boys, girls, I and even you reading this, are in one way or the other, responsible for a teenager getting pregnant.

In most countries, a teenager is anyone within the ages of 13-19 years. And teenage pregnancy is when a girl within this age group gets pregnant. In most cases, not only is the teenager’s body not fully developed biologically to accommodate a baby, but she is psychologically not aware of what she is getting into.

Research has proven that the high rates of unsafe abortions are as a result of teenagers trying to get rid of the baby. At worse, she loses her womb. At worst, she loses her life.

Who’s Responsible For Teenage Pregnancies in Africa? We All Are

Diagnosis of abortion complications in Nigeria. Source: Bankole (Guttmacher)

The downsides of teenage pregnancies

Before we play the blame game of who is responsible for teenage pregnancies, let’s take a good look at some of the disadvantages of teenage pregnancies. It leads to so many teenage girls dropping out of school, lack of money to cater for themselves and children can push them to become commercial sex workers (prostitutes), frustration and bitterness due to their unrealized dreams, are sometimes passed down to these innocent kids. What’s more, some lose their lives in the process of putting to birth and most give birth to underweight children.

Now, who’s really responsible?

We all are in one way or the other, responsible for every teenage girl who gets pregnant. Our African stereotype mindset has a great role to play here. It is good to teach our kids and siblings good morals BUT why do we exclude talks about sexual and reproductive health from these children?

We are in a highly digitalized society where everything is available via the Internet without any age restrictions. If we fail to educate them on what is right, they are exposed to those things outside and sometimes, get carried away and make the wrong choices. We (you and I) have also failed because of some very little acts we overlook; why do we give an unpleasant stare to a teenager coming to purchase a contraceptive (in most cases condoms)? Because we look at them as immoral, this makes many of these teens who are sexually active afraid to come out to buy them for fear of being criticized. So, they prefer to go about the act without protection and the end result is a baby neither of them planned for.

The Integrated Health Organization’s contribution

The Integrated Health Organization has carried out several campaigns in schools and strongly advocates for parents and adults to properly educate teenagers on safe sex practices.

Who’s Responsible For Teenage Pregnancies in Africa? We All Are

Cynthia Adanze leading an IHO sensitization campaign for the importance of educating teenagers on safe sex practices.

We are a team of dynamic youths with so much interest in preventive health. Educating teenagers especially at home and in schools will go a long way to curb the alarming rates of teenage pregnancies.

Let’s stop pointing accusing fingers when they come to purchase a contraceptive. It is our duty to guide these teens on how to go about life, especially within their teenage days. Rather than reject those who are already pregnant, let us support them. Then, make them understand it’s not the end of life as they can still achieve their dreams.

Teenage pregnancy is unhealthy and isn’t something anyone should encourage.

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