Slight drop in children as young as 10 giving birth, but terminations are on the rise
A bleak future for children, as some teenage mothers have to abandon their education to look after their babies.
Department of Health is concerned about childhood pregnancies.
Girls as young as 10 are giving birth, with only a slight decrease in the number of child pregnancies.
The Department of Health recently released its latest statistics on the crisis. They show 3 497 babies were born to children between the ages of 10 and 14 from April 2022 to March 2023. This is less than 500 fewer births than the 3 963 recorded a year earlier.
There were 6 600 less births to teenagers between 15 and 19 during the same period, down from 135 398 the year before.
Recorded termination of pregnancies by those between 10 and 19 jumped from 16 793 last year to 19 174.
Spokesperson Foster Mohale said the numbers were extremely concerning, but what was more heartbreaking was the lives it impacted.
A bleak future
“Some of these teenage mothers have to abandon their education to look after their babies.
“Teenage pregnancy is a societal issue, all leaders in the community and parents need to join hands with the government to address this issue and discuss the available sexual reproductive health services (including contraceptive use) available in clinics,” said Mohale.
He called on the youth to use condoms to protect against both unplanned pregnancies and STIs.
“We call upon leaders of society and parents to engage (their children) in early education and open discussions to empower them with health education (so they make) make well-informed health choices,” he said.
Save the Children SA told The Citizen they are deeply concerned about the epidemic.
It said many of these pregnancies could have been avoided by giving children, adolescents and young people access to sexual and reproductive health and right information appropriate to their age groups.
“There is more that could be done to correct this, starting with parents/caregivers within the households engaging with their children on sexual and reproductive health conversations as they watch them grow and go through different stages of their life cycles,” said the organisation’s Marumo Sekgobela.
She emphasised the importance of implementing government policy interventions such as Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Integrated school health policy in all schools across the country.
The policies are considered key integrated approaches aimed at empowering young people. The ultimate goal is to reduce unwanted teenage pregnancies.