Durban – As South Africa commemorates Youth Month, KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane has delivered a stern call for parents to take a more proactive role in raising their children, in an effort to mitigate the rising rates of teenage pregnancy.
"We can talk until we are blue in the face … until blood comes out of our eyes, but if we as parents and guardians don’t take responsibility in raising our kids properly, nothing will ever change,” said Simelane.
Simelane's impassioned plea was made during an Operation Sukuma Sakhe outreach initiative held in Verdriet, near Dannhauser (Newcastle).
The engagement followed her visit to a local clinic where it was revealed that this year, in April and May alone, seven school-aged girls fell pregnant.
KwaZulu-Natal registered 26 515 pregnancies among girls aged 10 to 19 from April to December last year, a statistic that includes a worrying 1 254 pregnancies among girls in the 10–14 age group.
The MEC urged communities to view the prevalence of teenage pregnancy as an abnormality.
“It’s a disgrace that in this community, in April and May, we’ve seen more than seven school-going children who’ve fallen pregnant,” she said.
“It is not a disgrace of government, but a disgrace for the parents … It is a disgrace for us as the black nation, because such things are only happening in the black community.”
Simelane also took aim at parents who tacitly allowed improper behaviour by their under-aged children at home. She urged them to return to basics and take a stricter stance in their parenting.
“Government is not there when those things happen. Government will not be able to come into your house, get into a room and separate underage kids (who are having sex) when you as a parent are abdicating your responsibility,” she argued.
Taking a strong stance against complacency, Simelane implored parents to reconsider their reaction to inappropriate conduct.
“If you ululate when your underage son brings a girl into the house and say, ‘My son is a Casanova …’ How do you even do that?”
Reiterating her fervent plea for urgent intervention, Simelane said, “It is disgusting for a 13-year-old child not to come back home. It is disgusting and unacceptable for a 17-year-old boy to sleep with a 13-year-old girl. We should never allow such things to happen.”
Simelane concluded by advising the young people to abstain from sex and focus on their education instead. For those unable or unwilling to abstain, she advised them to practice safe sex and use contraceptives.