Who’s to blame for teenage pregnancy?

Much has been said over the years about teenage pregnancy; blame games have been played, and yet those who are most affected—the teen mothers themselves—remain on the wrong side of the scale in the discussion. Through its representatives as servants of the public, the government is constantly open to differing opinions. On one hand, there are sentiments for banning teenage mothers from going back to school, even though the law protects their right to education during pregnancy and as parents. On the other hand, we have leaders willing to fight for the right to education and psychosocial support.

Cases of teenage pregnancy are dating as far back as memory serves. When leaders say that we need to go back to the olden days when girls were afraid of going back to school after getting pregnant, what does that mean? Are we endorsing shaming while still fighting against providing comprehensive sexuality education? Are we calling back shaming while not holding pedophiles and perpetrators of sexual violence and defilement accountable? Are we calling back shaming while perpetuating a culture that promotes the cycle of poverty by withholding education from those who need it most?

When a leader says we need to go back to forced pregnancy testing when girls return to school, are we forgetting that agency, choice, and privacy are just as much a right for girls as they are for anyone else on the planet? We cannot go back to retrogressive practices of blame, shame, and taking away fundamental rights and freedoms while ignoring the long-term, workable solutions we are responsible for as a nation, a government, and a society to implement.

Shame and stigmatization have been associated with teenage pregnancy for a long time. Unfortunately, the shame is severely misplaced. Teenage pregnancies are a reality in our society today. Most people are aware that teenage pregnancies are caused by many factors, among them poverty, lack of education and information about reproduction, and cases of sexual violence. Most of these causes are systemic, whose solutions lie in making changes geared towards changing the systems rather than shaming the individual.

So, when we are asking questions about how to address the complex issue of teenage pregnancy, it’s crucial to shift the focus from blame and shame to understanding the systemic factors at play. Rather than perpetuating outdated notions of shaming teen mothers, it’s time to advocate for comprehensive and proactive solutions.

In conclusion, addressing teenage pregnancy requires a holistic and compassionate approach that moves beyond blame and shame. It involves systemic changes, education, economic empowerment, and a collective effort to create an environment where teen mothers are supported rather than stigmatized. By focusing on solutions that empower individuals and challenge societal norms, we can work towards a future where teenage pregnancy is reduced and opportunities for all young people are expanded.

By Yaya*

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