JANET not her real name, is the only child of her parents; a 13yearold student of St Gabriel Comprehensive high school; she was the junior prefect of her school due to her sweet and intelligent performance among her peers. She was loved by both the teachers and students because of her smartness, neatness, commitment and perseverance.
But with all these gifts endorsed by God to Janet, she lacked parental care; she is left alone to decide and to use her initiatives in doing things on her own either good or bad.
Her mother is not always around to look after her, most especially when she needed motherly care and advice. At the time Janet had her first menstrual period, their male house help (Jacob) was at home with her to give her the necessary care. But it turned out to be a sordid experience as Jacob took advantage of this growing little girl who has her whole future ahead of her.
Jacob began to sleep with Janet afterwards, telling her if he didn’t do that, the menstrual blood would continue. That continued without her parent’s knowledge until her mother later discovered when the girl was ill. She got the shock of her life when she was told her daughter was pregnant. More devastating was the fact that their maid had been sleeping with her.
Jacob, 15 years old, initially denied responsibility. But after the intervention and interrogation by the police, he confessed to the crime.
Teenage pregnancy is a pregnancy in human females under the ages of 20. A pregnancy can take place in a pubertal female before menarche (the first menstrual period), which signals the possibility of fertility, but usually occurs after menarche. In well-nourished girls, menarche usually takes place around the age of 12 or 13.
In Nigeria, teenage pregnancies are often associated with social issues, including lower educational levels, higher rates of poverty, and other poorer life outcomes in children of teenage mothers. Teenage pregnancy in developed countries is usually outside of marriage, and carries a social stigma in many communities and cultures.
On the part of the parents, lack of sex education, ignorance, lack of exposure, carelessness and non-chalant attitude could be the major factors responsible for the high rate of teenage pregnancy in Nigeria.
Sunday Tribune stumbled on cases in the city of Ibadan, where the girl child of the underaged found herself in such situation either consciously or unconsciously. There are various cases in schools, community and also had sneaked into the churches.
Another scenario involved an elder and deaconess of a popular Pentecostal church in the city of Ibadan who were suspended from the church as a result of their daughter’s teenage involvement pregnancy. The church blamed the parent for carelessness.
Research also indicate that the girl child suffers the major part; some could not even identify who is responsible for the pregnancy.
Only few are fortunate not being castigated by their parents, but a large number of the victims end up on the streets looking for means to survive because there is no one to take care of ‘the under aged mother and the child’.
Speaking with a medical expert, at the Federal Medical Center, Abeokuta, Dr Ajibola Michael told Sunday Tribune that, “Early childbearing may be life-threatening to both the mother and the child. Mothers younger than 17 years, face an increased risk of maternal mortality because their bodies are not yet mature enough to bear children. They may not recognise the symptoms of pregnancy or may not wish to acknowledge a conception, delaying prenatal care and endangering the health of the child and mother.”
“Teen mothers’ deliveries are more often complicated by obstructed labour or other problems, which may lead to death of the mother and/or child, or to maternal infertility. Children born to teenage mothers are more likely to be premature, be of low birth weight, and suffer from retarded fetal growth,” he added.
Ajibola also added that infants born to mothers 15 to 19 years old are nearly 80 percent more likely to die during the first year of life than infants born to mothers 20 to 29 years old.
Sunday Tribune gathered the opinion of parents on the cause, who is responsible and how to address this development:
Miss Bukola Idris, Kogi For a young immature girl of secondary school age to get pregnant, I think it is the fault of the parents. A parent must be able to know the whereabouts of their children no matter how the condition may be.
A good mother must be able to caution her children especially the female ones. We must not be too harsh on them likewise not to loose with them. Lack of parental care can cause unwanted pregnancy for a teenager.
Mr Senaike Segun, businessman, Ibadan Teenage pregnancy is now rampant due to the carelessness of the parents. It is the responsibility of the parent to provide the needs of each to him or her. Parent’s carefree attitude is the major cause of this problem to children. When there is no proper care for a child, the child is a prey to any available man to take advantage of her, he said.
Mr Stephen Onu, teacher, Lagos Some of the causes of this teenage pregnancy are: lack of discipline; lack of fear of God. Parents need to put more eyes on their children, charge them with the fear of God.
Mrs Abosede Olomoshua, trader, Ibadan When this thing happens, I think it is the fault of both parents but especially the mother. A female must be provided at least 70 percent of her needs to avoid collecting things from men outside.
A female child must be handlled with care and needs much attention from the parents; lack of proper care, lack of home training and civilisation are the causes of all this unwanted pregnancy among our children.
Reverend Olusayo Fadeyibi, Clergy The bible says “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” when the fear of God dwells in the heart of a child, she won’t go to where is contrary to the will of God. Teenage pregnancy is as a result of carelessness of the parents. Good parents must be able to monitor their wards all the time. When a child brings what does not belong to her, especially material things, such parent should query the child where she got it from but civilisation has turned things upside down; we are now in the world where our young girls use expensive phones while the parents use a phone of Three Thousand Naira. My question is where do they get that expensive phones and money to maintain them from?
Parents have a lot of work to do on our female children; the worst part of it is that, most of these teenagers don’t know the biological fathers of the innocent children.