How to prevent teen preganacies?

How to prevent teen pregnancies?


According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), more than 500,000 Ghanaian girls aged 10 to 19 became pregnant between 2016 and 2020. That equates to more than 111,000 teen pregnancies per year on average. Over 13,400 of the teen pregnancies during this time period involved girls between the ages of 10 and 14. 


Teen pregnancy is associated with a high school dropout rate, implying that the affected girls' futures are jeopardized. "We've seen several girls get pregnant, and they're all 14 to 15 years old," says Rafiskata Mohammed, a girls' education officer in Ghana's north western region. "Some students stay in school, but many drop out to marry." One of our pregnant female students relocated to Accra to work as a porter, carrying burdens on her head to earn money."


She goes on to say that the high rate of teen pregnancy is linked to forced marriages involving young girls. "Even if a girl does not want to marry, a man may forcefully impregnate her. The family will then be irritated and tell the girl to marry the man."


There are several causes for the twin phenomena of teen pregnancies and forced marriages involving young girls. Many schools do not provide adequate reproductive health education or encouragement to girls to avoid pregnancy and complete their education.


Poverty, parental neglect, and cultural norms are all important factors. "If a child needs something and his or her parents are unable to provide it, she may look elsewhere," says Winfred Ofosu, regional director of GHS.


"If you are a girl and you are 'cornered' by a man who wants to have sex with you, theoretically you should be able to talk your way out of it, but in reality you don't know how and you are too young to resist," he adds.


One possible solution that is gaining traction is raising the age of consent to sex from 16 to 18, matching the age of legal consent to marriage.


Sex with a child under the age of 18 would be a violation of the law in and of itself. "The adult involved would be unable to argue that sex was consensual because no one under the age of 18 would be permitted to make that decision," Ofosu says.


Rafiskata Mohammed believes that simply changing the legal age of consent is insufficient. For example, ingrained cultural norms continue to force many young girls into unwelcome marriages. Mohammed proposes enacting community bylaws to discourage such behavior. The simple truth is that parents, teachers, and societies must recognize that sex education is not about having sex. Its goal is to prepare teenagers for a responsible, safe, and fulfilling adulthood.

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