Feature Article of Sunday, 21 April 2013
Columnist: Schandorf, Adu Bright
The menace of teenage pregnancy is slowly killing the destiny of our youth and the future of this great nation.
It is evident that, teenage pregnancy is on the rise in Berekum, Ghana, Africa and around the world. Throughout history, children are known to be gifts from God, but for some, a child is either considered a curse or a misfortune, especially when it is not planned for. The arrival of a child must always be prepared for. In the situation, where a teenager gives birth to a child, the idea of preparation is flouted, blanked out or forgotten and neglected. When it comes to a teenager given birth to a child, teenage pregnancy is always the central idea. The issue of teenage pregnancy has become very common in the Berekum Municipality, especially among both Junior and Senior High School students. It has therefore gained media attention in recent times. Its occurrence has become very alarming making one doubtful of the efficacy of our most cherished moral values inculcated in the youth by our traditional or religious bodies. It looks like the innumerable sex education campaigns given through Ghana Education Service (GES) syllabus and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the youth just only falls on deaf ears. Initially, the impression was that, teenage pregnancy often happens among uneducated teenagers who lack parental guidance, but of late this notion seems abating, since most of today’s culprits are those in school.
Teenage pregnancy is where a girl between the ages of 12-19, gets pregnant. Teenage pregnancy robs a nation of its potential future leaders. It makes the teenager in question a school drop-out leading to a frustrated life. In some situations, the teenage mother decides to continue her education; however, her level of concentration in class drastically reduces, making her fall academically. This poor academic performance on her part results in constant repetitions in class, and when she becomes fed up about her constant repetition, she quits. Consequentially, the teenage mother becomes jobless, poor and ends up in a very low standard of living. Providing adequately for her child becomes extremely difficult and in this case lack of parental control is the result. The child of the teenage mother also begins to seek help from elsewhere due to her poor background, especially from men, and might end up getting pregnant at a tender age thereby becoming a living testimony of the adage “like mother like child.”
There are other health risks that come along with teenage pregnancy such as still birth, undeveloped baby and abortion which might lead to loss of child or mother since her bones are premature. Sometimes, most of these teenagers also die from illegal abortions. This could be attributed to lack of financial resources and what it takes to go to proper hospitals for the adequate medical procedures. At certain times, the teenage mother gets so angry with herself for making such a horrendous mistake and she tends to vent her anger on the child. This might result in lack of communication, tenderness, care and love between the mother and the child, and the possibility of the child going wayward in this case is high. In most cases, the last option is suicide due to depression and rejection from parents and friends.
Poverty and entertainment are the main causes of teenage pregnancy in Berekum, I believe. Most parents are unable to provide the basic needs of their children. Most parents share a single room with their teenage girl. These young girls are uncomfortable sharing single room with their father and other siblings. So they decide to look elsewhere for shelter. Peers who offer to help these girls with shelter either intoxicate or influence them in the process to have unprotected sex resulting in teenage pregnancy. At times, the young girls are being raped in the pursuit of shelter. For the young boys who feel whipped by poverty, develop a determination to get rich overnight. At their age, the only solution to their plight is cyber fraud; otherwise christened as “Sakawa.” Those who succeed in this evil and devilish act become breed winners to poor young girls. These “Sakawa boys” sleep with every young girl they come across because of their overnight riches. The young girls do not engage in “Sakawa” because they lack the morale and expertise but will agree to take nude pictures at a prize to aid the process. The product of all these actions is teenage pregnancy.
It is not uncommon to see every drink spots in Berekum hosting street jams almost everyday. The effect of this is that; it becomes the home for wandering teenagers seeking shelter. In the same vein, the street jams serve as hunting fields for “Sakawa boys”who are roaming for a girl to devour. Entertainment is good but unregulated entertainment is a curse to any society.
The purpose of this article is to suggest a solution, holistic approach fighting teenage pregnancy in Berekum. Everyone must decide to get involved. No one should give birth to a child without adequate preparations. Our schools and NGOs should engage students in sex education at least once a term. Herbalists should stop giving illegal drugs to teenagers for abortion or else arrest should be made on them. Again, the media must also spearhead public education in this regard. In terms of Berekum development, the media station that is phenomenal is Shalom Radio, kudos to the leadership. We also recognize the influence of the religious bodies in solving this canker. The churches should continually preach the good virtues of Christ to our teenagers for character reformation. Notwithstanding that, the church should also draw some programs to attract their youth as alternative to worldly entertainment especially during Christmas and other special occasions. Lastly the police should also stop any drink spot that flouts public rules in organizing street jams. It appears anybody can organize street jam anytime, everywhere and to everyone in Berekum. Unambiguous attention from the police should be given to this.
Without the discipline from the teenager, any solution is meaningless. It is the discipline born out of decision that says no to present pleasures, lust and sexual satisfaction that will make our teenager great for our municipality. It is a fact that during the teenage period of any human, curiosity comes in mind, especially the desire to experience sex. Rev. Adomah Kwasi Solomon of Impact Family Chapel Berekum says “Sex is a good thing and God intend it for married couples who are ready to bear its consequences.” Even though it is a natural phenomenon for any youth to harbor these feelings but discipline can master and conquer those feelings. Discipline rules the mind, emotions and thoughts. It brings self-denial and causes one to wait patiently till the right time. There might be a lot of forums and campaigns all over the country to educate the youth on teenage pregnancy, but all will be of no use, if the youth do not take the advice given to them seriously.