Gaps in reproductive health of the girl child must be addressed
As more and more younger girls continue to engage in early sex, experts are calling for solutions to this issue saying that such choices will have dire consequences.
Scores of girls are now finding themselves pregnant and out of school, meaning that the inability to complete their education will have serious implications on their future.
Most are left unable to compete with their counterparts since the job market demands that one has academic papers.
It is against this backdrop that experts are calling for dialogue on the issue even though it is being received with a lot of controversy.
Myths and misconception
Addressing contraceptives in relation to young people continues to receive backlash. Besides the backlash, there is also the question of whether the environment and community has created a conducive environment for contraceptive use.
In the recent past myths associated with contraceptives in rural and peri-urban set ups within the African societies have been a major hindrance on access to and provision of relevant Sexual Reproductive Health Services.
Many youths have suffered silently for fear of being victimized or reprimanded resulting in increased number of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
Although there is no magical answer the right age to talk to children about contraceptives and sex, parents should know the importance of conveying information to their adolescents so they are able to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies a while bearing in mind that every child is different in terms of maturity, exposure and understanding.
Controversy around contraceptives
Initially, most teenagers and parents erroneously believed that contraceptive services were a preserve of married couples, or grown up women, simply because the act of using the products was known as family planning. The delusion has led many young people to reject contraceptive commodities arguing they have no families to plan.
In the recent past, consistent provision of appropriate comprehensive information on sexuality and referrals by youth resource persons through campaigns and sensitization programmes have seen the trend change.
Information is key since most young girls are left with lack of knowledge which leaves them significantly vulnerable to sex predators who lure them into engaging in intercourse but end up leaving them pregnant and out of school.
The menace of teenage pregnancies particularly for the un-empowered girl child continues to be a heavy burden at both local and national leadership levels as most teens have no instructions about contraceptive methods. The problem is made worse by the fact that curriculum sexuality education does not include teaching about contraceptive use.
Policy and practice
This, therefore, calls for a policy that is progressive and speaks to the existing loopholes with regards to the need to address the situation where girls are still vulnerable to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.
The mere thought of sharing sexuality information with children often sends many parents frantically to the exit with teens opting to turn to the most readily available teacher — the internet — which might not enable them make informed decisions.
A good percentage of teenage girls say that the main reason that they do not use birth control pills is because they fear their parents’ reactions once they get to know.
The prevention factor
Preventing teens from accessing contraceptives will not stop them from having sex but will instead drive them from services they need to protect themselves leading to teenage pregnancies and STIs.
Stakeholders and parents should ensure that relevant campaign and awareness programmes on reproductive health and contraceptives are given to pupils or students to increase their knowledge and allow them take precaution on reproductive health demands.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about contraceptives and the issue of family planning at large. Rumours about different contraceptive commodities persist because people do not have the correct information about the methods, benefits and advantages.
Whatever the case, there is need for stakeholders to step in and address the ongoing scourge where girls are not being allowed to enjoy their youth while accessing education.
Girls as young as those in primary school are finding themselves out of school just because someone took advantage of their innocence leaving them to fend for themselves and their babies, an issue that must be put to a stop.