Holistic approach needed to curb teenage pregnancy

Holistic approach needed to curb teenage pregnancy. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Holistic approach needed to curb teenage pregnancy. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Published Mar 3, 2024


Having recently marked teenage pregnancy awareness month, a severe issue that plagues society, much attention has been brought to the subject.

According to Tshepo Motholo of Gauteng Social Development, teenage pregnancy is one of the most serious issues in South Africa, underscoring the imperative to address it.

Motholo says in South Africa, teenage pregnancy has become a pandemic, leaving a trail of shattered dreams and unfulfilled potentials in its wake.

“But let’s not engage in finger-pointing, for this is not merely a gender-specific problem; rather, it's a multifaceted issue that demands a holistic approach.”

In a June 2022 parliamentary statement, Angie Motshekga, the Minister of Basic Education, stated that the data points to a dire situation: almost 90 000 pregnancies among girls between the ages of 10 and 19 were reported in South Africa between April 2021 and March 2022.

Recent statistics show an even higher number, with more than 150 000 young girls experiencing pregnancy during the 2022/23 financial year.

These numbers, while shocking, do not fully represent the crisis, as they don’t include clandestine abortions, unregistered births, or the silent struggles of those who experience miscarriages.

“Social media emerges as a significant culprit in this narrative. The allure of influencers and their seemingly glamorous lifestyles can bewitch impressionable young minds, fostering unrealistic aspirations and leading them down dangerous paths.

“In the pursuit of imitating their idols, some young girls find themselves entangled in relationships with older men, informally referred to as 'sugar daddies’ or blessers. This phenomenon is but one facet of a larger issue exacerbated by societal pressures.”

Moreover, factors like child marriage and substance abuse further compound the problem, casting a shadow of despair over our youth.

It is evident that combating teenage pregnancy requires more than just band-aid solutions; it necessitates a concerted effort to address the root causes and empower young girls with the tools they need to navigate life’s complexities.

The government has implemented deliberate measures to address teenage pregnancy by introducing initiatives like comprehensive sexuality education.

This programme enables learners to learn about their bodies and, among other things, to break the taboo surrounding discussing sex with learners.

Dialogues have been initiated by the government to enable community members to openly discuss the challenges faced by young girls in communities.

In efforts to reduce teenage pregnancy rates, awareness programmes have been implemented, coupled with the promotion of preventative measures such as contraception education, access to family planning services, and the availability of contraceptive drugs.

Easy and free access to healthcare services also contributes greatly to prevention by encouraging empathy and understanding, allowing us to break down the barriers that impede their progress and pave the way for a brighter future.

“Addressing the issue of teenage pregnancy requires both our steadfast commitment and collaborative effort.

“The community must join hands with the government in this endeavour. Together, let us pledge to dismantle the barriers of ignorance and stigma and pave the way for empowerment and opportunities for our young girls.

“While the journey ahead may pose challenges, by working together, we can navigate towards a promising future.”

The Star