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LoveLife urges South Africans to “walk the talk” regarding schools in reporting underage pregnancies to the police

LoveLife warns of the consequences of the lack of proper implementation of the new policy on underage pregnancies in schools and the lack of public cooperation. Photo: Lebohang Mashiloane.

LoveLife warns of the consequences of the lack of proper implementation of the new policy on underage pregnancies in schools and the lack of public cooperation. Photo: Lebohang Mashiloane.

Published Dec 30, 2021

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DURBAN - YOUTH-FOCUSED wellness non-profit organisation, LoveLife, urges that South Africans “walk the talk” regarding the new policies gazetted by the Department of Basic Education that mandate schools to report underage pregnancies to the South African Police Services.

The new policy, named “Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy in Schools”, aims to counter the scourge of underage pregnancies in the country. The policy compels schools to send police reports if the pregnant girl is under the age of 16 and the child’s father is older than 16.

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LoveLife said it welcomed this policy urging for the co-operation of everyday South Africans in making the policy effective.

“The new policy places a huge responsibility on schools as they will now have to be in communication with SAPS when a learner under the age of 16 falls pregnant. That is statutory rape; it’s a serious crime that should be reported. There are fully grown men older than 16 impregnating younger girls. Civil and criminal charges must be instituted against these suspects,” said Dr Linda Ncube-Nkomo, chief executive officer of loveLife.

“The lack of outrage by the majority of adult South Africans when it comes to underage and teen pregnancies is outrageous, at the very least. More action-oriented solutions need to be employed by South Africans as they condemn older men who continue to thrive in the scourge of the sexual exploitation of children and teenagers,” they added.

The organisation further warns of the consequences of a lack of proper implementation of the policy and the lack of public co-operation.

The policy is to be implemented from January next year.

Meanwhile, the National Freedom Party (NFP) issued a statement saying it was “utterly shocked and dismayed” by the Education Basic Ministry’s decision to compel schools to report all pregnant learners to the police.

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NFP secretary-general Canaan Mdletshe said they were of the view that the department should come up with practical solutions to prevent this crisis, instead of compelling schools to report pregnant learners to the police.

“We don’t believe that reporting already pregnant learners is a solution. The department should rather be coming up with preventative measures.”

He said the party had previously proposed that part of the possible solutions would be to increase or ensure the availability of social workers in schools, who would assist with identifying social challenges that contribute to the phenomenon.

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“It’s a sad reality that learners from poverty-stricken families or poor backgrounds are most likely to fall prey to older and well-off men,” said Mdletshe.

Dealing with poverty should be a priority instead of reporting pregnant learners to the police.

“We call on the involvement of traditional leadership, especially because traditionally we have ways and means of encouraging young girls from abstaining from sexual activities such as virginity testing.

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“Also, culturally we have platforms where young boys are taught how to behave. This structure could be of great assistance if involved and recognised.”

Statistics by the Department of Health showed that in the last four years, 14 176 girls aged between 10 and 14 fell pregnant.

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