Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer
FEWER TEENAGE girls are getting pregnant in Jamaica today. The latest data from the Registrar General Department show there were 8,021 teenage pregnancies in 2006 compared to 2005, when there were 8,568 such pregnancies. In 2004, there were 8,234 of them.
Dianne Thomas, director for outreach at the National Family Planning Board, said the decline seen in 2006 could be attributed to various reasons, including the availability of more information in communities among different age groups, lectures in schools given by guidance counsellors, and the fact that teens are now more aware of the different locations from which they can get contraceptives, such as the clinics, pharmacies and some shops.
However, despite the decline, teenage pregnancy remains a problem and is of concern to persons who do social intervention.
According to Beryl Weir, executive director of Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation, it is the major reason why the girls do not finish secondary education.
"We at the centre give these teens a chance to realise their goals in life, and also we counsel them through numerous workshops, about how to deal with stress and also how to be good mothers," says Weir.
But some young teens do not allow their age to prevent them from displaying positive parental skills in growing up their child.
"Research shows that they are good mothers, and oftentimes their children become good persons in society. Some of the girls are poor but they make use of their achievement from the Women's Centre," states Weir.
The Child Care and Prevention Act protects every Jamaican child from sexual abuse. The law also stipulates that no child under 16 can give consent, so where a teenager under 16 is pregnant, such a case would be treated as carnal abuse.
The Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse investigates cases of carnal abuse, after which the men involved are brought before the court.
Cons Mark Tomlinson of the Guy's Hill Police Station said "Depending on the situation, these men can get up to 15 years imprisonment, or if they are teens themselves, they go through a period of mediation counselling."
Tomlinson said that there were cases where parents of pregnant teens were brought before the court to face charges of child neglect, or for having knowledge of the child's behaviour.
Some teen mothers sometimes experience stress and pain because the fathers of their babies do not stand up to their responsibilities. However, Weir said that not all the fathers are able to carry out the roles of being good fathers, as they can't afford it.
Statistics on teenage pregnancy
Common methods of birth control include:
The birth control pills
The Depo-Provera injection
Abstinence is the only 100 per cent effective way to prevent pregnancy.