Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Grange calls for greater support for pregnant teens

Published:Monday | January 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Debbie-Ann Brown-Salmon (right), board chairman, Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), presents Sylvia Henry (left), president of the Jamaica Bureau of Women's Foundation (JBWF), with a plaque in recognition of her service to the Foundation, during the WCJF 40th anniversary church service which was held at the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew on Sunday.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia Grange urged Jamaicans yesterday not to turn their backs on pregnant teenagers, or teenage mothers.

Grange was speaking during the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation's 40th anniversary church service at Boulevard Baptist Church in Kingston.

She was adamant that the Government does not endorse teenage pregnancy, but insisted that pregnant teens need love and care, too.

"Jesus made it very clear that all of us, no matter our station in life, are important. We know that when a girl becomes pregnant, her life changes in significant ways, and rarely, if ever, for the better. Forty years ago, teenage pregnancy meant a dead end. It was the guarantee of future misery, a life of poverty, exclusion and dependence," she said.

Data presented by Grange, show that teenage pregnancy in Jamaica has been on the decline.

She said that each year globally, roughly 16 million vulnerable girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth to babies who become equally, if not more, vulnerable.

In Jamaica, the adolescent birth rate has been falling from a high of 129 per 1,000 girls in 1985, to 60 per 1,000 girls in 2015. "The fall has been dramatic, and we can credit this success in part to the work of the dedicated women and men of the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation over the last 40 years."

Since its establishment, the centre has been helping to remove major obstacles from the lives of adolescent mothers, including helping them to continue their education and thereby increasing their job prospects and equipping them with the tools to look after their children and to become good parents.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com