Schools Battle Teen Pregnancies

Published in The New Age – 3 Sept 2012
by Francis Hweshe

Activist group Sonke Gender Justice has lashed out at “sugar daddies” amid attempts by a city school to contain learner pregnancies due to irresponsible sexual behaviour.

Principal at Maitland Secondary School Riedwaan Kenny said seven girls in his school have fallen pregnant since the beginning of the year and a local clinic also raised concerns about a large number of learners from the school who approach them seeking to terminate their pregnancies.

Kenny said the pregnancies were due to “irresponsible sexual behaviour.”

Kenny said he had raised awareness on the dangers of teenage pregnancies among his learners.

Maitland police station local trauma counselling unit held workshops at the school with some of the parents and community members. Activists who facilitated the workshops said some of the learners had confided in them that they recently had unprotected sex and feared falling pregnant.

Aadielah Maker, Special Programmes Adviser at Sonke Justice Network said learners “are vulnerable not only to unplanned pregnancies but also to HIV and other STIs.”

Workshop facilitator Pierrette Disanka said learners “don’t know that you can get pregnant or get HIV the first time you have sex. They don’t know how to correctly use a condom.”

One grade 12 learner who participated in a session dealing with the use of contraceptives said “we do learn about these things in school but it isn’t enough. Sometimes you feel shy to ask your teacher who you see every day.”

Addressing parents and community members on Friday at a local church, national One Man Can project manager Patrick Godana said teenage pregnancy was a provincial problem with schools in Phillipi and Strand calling his organisation to come and provide education to the learners.

He took a swipe at “sugar daddies” saying communities should report them to police as they lied to young girls in order to have sex with them.

He also slammed fake and unregistered medical doctors for putting the lives of pregnant teenagers at risk with their adverts that they could safely terminate pregnancies.

Godana said parents should not encourage their children to go to these doctors but instead should report their activities to the police.

He urged parents to learn to talk to their children about the dangers of having sex at an early age as well as loving them so that they would not be lured by older men with lies about “love”. He said love from parents gave children confidence and called on parents to “be the agents of change you want to see in South Africa”.

Trauma counsellor at Maitland police station Wilma Green echoed the same message urging parents to report fake medical doctors to police. “Parents should stand together to make a difference,” she added. Godana said their continued activities in the community should give better results in the next 18 months.