Safe sex education call as teen pregnancies rise

Teenage pregnancy has sparked concern as the youngest mother is 14 years old. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Teenage pregnancy has sparked concern as the youngest mother is 14 years old. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Published Jan 3, 2024


Durban — An organisation whose main purpose is the development of a society free of child abuse has said society needs to be educated about safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases.

This comes after KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane raised concerns about teenage mothers when she welcomed the New Year’s Day babies this week. She said the youngest mother was 14 years old.

“It means she fell pregnant when she was 13 and that’s a serious concern.”

Simelane said society needed to take responsibility for these kinds of actions. She added that when a young girl falls pregnant, the issue of paying damages must not be discussed.

“What damages are you paying when you have impregnated a 13-year-old? That person must go to jail.”

The Department of Health said the province welcomed a total of 260 New Year’s Day babies on Monday: 140 girls and 120 boys. The number of teenage mothers was 50, made up of one aged 14; seven aged 16; 11 aged 17; 11 aged 18; and 20 aged 19.

The acting director at Childline KZN, Adeshini Naicker, said while the birth of a baby was a joyous occasion, it was a worry when the mother was a teenager, who most probably had to take a few months of school or worse, drop out.

“The high number of teenage pregnancies in South Africa is one to be concerned about,” said Naicker.

She said despite the many programmes conducted to highlight this and create awareness, there had not been much of a decline. Society needed to be educated.

“Programmes that are sustainable need to be implemented,” she said.

The province was last year reported to have more than 26 000 pregnancies of girls aged 10-19 from December 2022 to April 2023; of those, 1 254 were aged 14 years or younger.

The premier of KZN, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, said they have programmes in place that are led by her office working together with the Department of Health and Social Development, “to go all-out in talking to young girls about the issues of preventing teenage pregnancy”.

Dube-Ncube said she believed teenage pregnancy was something families and society should be “frowning on”, instead of it being treated as normal.

Furthermore, Dube-Ncube condemned absent fathers – she said this issue was a pandemic.

“We need to realise that absent fathers have severe consequences on children themselves. Many children feel unworthiness, lack self-esteem and many other negative effects,” she said.

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