Psychologist calls for change in framing of teenage pregnancy conversations

todayJanuary 30, 2024 25

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Psychologist, Professor Saths Cooper, is urging South Africans to change the language they use when addressing teenage pregnancy.

He says how these conversations are framed is problematic as usually vilify young girls, who sometimes had been taken advantage of by older men due to their economic circumstances.

“We (are) almost victimising our children who are impregnated by older adults,” he warns.

The Professor’s remarks come after the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, recently submitted a new policy to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, which seeks to bring teenage pregnancy among scholars under control.

The policy prohibits schools from excluding or expelling pregnant pupils, among others, while also making it compulsory to report cases of statutory rape.
The age of consent for both girls and boys in the country is 16 and if an underage girl falls pregnant by a person who is 18 years or older, it is considered as statutory raped.
Speaking to YNews, Professor Cooper said using a language that vilifies the victim does not only let rape perpetrators off the hook, but also relieves the Department of Basic Education and health officials of their obligation to report cases of statutory rape.
He says says the country’s education system needs to be improved to better equip the girl child about pregnancy and help the boy child to fully understand their responsibility.
According to the World Health Organisation – South Africa has one of the highest pregnancy rates in the world, with nearly one in four girls falling pregnant before turning 20 years old.
Local statistics show that at least 4% of learners between the ages of 14 and 19 years fell pregnant between 2018 and 2022. Just last year, KwaZulu-Natal MEC of Health, Nomagugu Simelane, revealed that between April and December, 26 515 girls aged between 10 and 19 years fell pregnant, with at least 1 254 of the scholars being 14 years old and younger.

Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa

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