The Ministry of Public Health is exploring long-term solutions to prevent adolescents from participating in early sexual activities and becoming victims of teenage pregnancy.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DMO), Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Boyle said when her Ministry learnt of the inappropriate video content involving school aged children circulating on social media platforms, they immediately engaged the Ministries of Education and Social Protection.
Dr. Boyle explained to the Government Information Agency (GINA) that a task force was formed to provide support to the parents and children involved, however, a more long-term solution is being considered.
“The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Social Protection are going to have to look at implementing a programme that deals with supplemental parenting skills. There is no manual that teaches you to be a parent before you become a parent; you learn along the way, your parents may give you a hint or sometimes you learn by the mistakes but this programme will open the door to for parenting skills,” Boyle explained.
The Deputy CMO further explained that it is not a mystery that children make mistakes but it is the government’s role to mitigate the impact of those mistakes. She further explained that this new programme will seek to accomplish that by ensuring that fathers actively participate in parenthood from the pregnancy stage.
In the interim, the Ministry of Public Health will strengthen its adolescent health programme to tackle teenage pregnancy, Dr. Boyle noted.
“Through our adolescent health programme we’re trying to ensure that there are clinics now where adolescents who have made that decision already or are sexually active to go and have access to materials for their protection and get the information that they can understand without being judged,” Dr.Boyle underlined.
Dr. Boyle urged families, churches and other organisations that promote abstinence to recognise that everyone has a choice and therefore; if adolescents choose to be sexually active then they must be provided with the correct information to make those choices. The DCMO added that adolescents must be taught the benefits of abstinence and the consequences attached to being sexually active.
Meanwhile, GINA stated that the Child Care Protection Agency (CPA) is also doing its part to address the issue of teenage pregnancy. Director of the CPA, Ann Greene said that her department will be beefing up its teen empowerment program in all the regions to encourage youths to abstain or protect themselves.
“We’re working the teen empowerment programme to prevent teens from getting pregnant, we want them to concentrate more on their studies to make wise decisions to put that whole sexual activity off; but even if you reach this stage where you don’t want to delay it we want you to protect yourself from STDs and even early pregnancy,” Green explained to GINA.
This effort will also be a collaborative one with Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) in every school along with Welfare Officers to better address this issue, Greene pointed out.
Serious concerns have been raised about the conduct of young students from several well-known schools appearing in videos, featuring explicit sexual content being shared on social media.