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Awareness needed to address teen pregnancies

OPINION
By Jackson Bambo | June 18th 2020
Jack Bambo, Director Light Uriri

MIGORI, KENYA: Teenage pregnancy is becoming a social issue in Kenya as a result of idleness among teens due to the pandemic.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, in Kenya, about 11 per cent of teenagers are engaging in sexual activities before their 15 birthday.

The numbers go up dramatically as young girls get deeper into their teens.

In Kenya, an estimated 47 per cent of teens are already sexually active before the age of 18 – the legal age of consent.

Sexual activity has been encouraged by the proliferation of mobile phones, which spur youth to be sexually promiscuous through such novel avenues as “sexting”.

Almost a quarter of Kenyan teens will give birth by the end of this year. To realise the SDGs in Kenya, it will be very important to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in the country.

When adolescent girls grow up healthy, and are able to go to school, they are more likely to escape poverty, and they facilitate the upward social and economic mobility of their families and society.
Latest statistics on adolescents (between ages 15 and 19 years) from the Demographic Health Survey (Republic of Kenya and KNBS, 2014) reveal that teen pregnancy and motherhood rates in Kenya stand at 18 per cent. About two in every five adolescent girls have either had a live birth or is pregnant with her first child.

The Ministry of Social Services must take drastic efforts to tame the growing practice.

Causes include: high rates of poverty, idleness, prostitution, and child sexual abuse, lack of contraceptives, drug abuse and lack of awareness among the adolescents on the consequences of engaging in unhealthy relationships

Communities, schools, parents, guardians, and advocacy organizations should put more effort in creating awareness among adolescents.

There should be deliberate efforts to sponsor the most vulnerable girls from poor families to help girls in need.
 

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