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Teenage Pregnancy In Sri Lanka

“Did you see yesterday’s episode of ‘Secret Life of the American Teenager?’ Amy found out she’s pregnant in it…can you believe it, she’s still in school…”

 “Imagine getting pregnant in your teens! How do you go to school and face your friends and teachers? Imagine telling your parents!” “My mom always says teenagers get pregnant only in America, it doesn’t happen in Sri Lanka unless girls misbehave.”

Sounds familiar? To all our readers who thought teenage pregnancy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_pregnancy was not an issue in Sri Lanka, here’s a shocking statistic: over 7% of all recorded pregnancies in Sri Lanka are teenage ones. That is, they were pregnancies in girls less than 20 years of age.

Why Is There Teenage Pregnancy In Sri Lanka

Poverty and family instability are underlying conditions leading to early pregnancy in Sri Lanka. An alcoholic father, an absent mother who’s away or abroad, and/or dropping out of school due to financial problems; these are some common contributing factors.

Lack of awareness about reproductive health – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproductive_health and contraception – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_control is another issue. Many parents do not feel comfortable discussing sex-education with their teenagers, and teachers avoid the subject at school as well. As a result, many Sri Lankan teenagers are unaware of even basic facts related to safe sex and contraception.

Cultural reasons also play a role. Mothers who had children in their teens due to family pressure are more likely to encourage their own teenage children to marry and reproduce early, leading to a cycle of teenage pregnancy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_pregnancy.

On a darker note, some teenagers become pregnant because they were forced into sexual intercourse, sometimes even by close family members. An increasing number of reported teenage pregnancies in Sri Lanka have been due to rape and incest.

Why Should We Prevent It?

Although teenagers are biologically capable of reproduction after puberty – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puberty, emotionally and physically, they are still developing too.  As such they do not have the psychological or physical maturity to raise a child themselves.

Teenage pregnancy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_pregnancy can disrupt higher studies, and many teenage mothers find their future employability suffers as a result. This can have serious financial consequences for the teenage mother, especially if she has no partner or family to financially support her.

There are legal issues around teenage pregnancy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_pregnancy as well. Since abortion – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion isn’t a legal option in Sri Lanka, many teenagers have to carry their pregnancy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy to term, even if they or their families don’t like it. Furthermore, the legal age of marriage in Sri Lanka is 18, and teenagers who become pregnant before this are often forced to deliver whilst being unmarried. In such cases establishing paternity and registering the child’s birth can become problematic.

Furthermore, teenage mothers face higher health risks of developing complications during pregnancy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy and labor – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childbirth. They are also more likely to develop psychological problems such as post-natal depression – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postpartum_depression due to the stress and emotional pressures of motherhood.

Preventing Teenage Pregnancy

Creating a secure and stable family environment is key, and parents play a huge role. Parents should realize teenagers are still children who need their love and support to develop into mature adults. Parents and teachers should also have open dialogue with teenagers on issues relating to sex, reproductive health – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproductive_health and contraception – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_control. This will not only prevent teenage pregnancy, but also reduce the spread of sexually transmitted disease – http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexually_transmitted_disease. We must not assume that only girl children should be given the talk about preventing teenage pregnancy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_pregnancy. Teenage boys too must realize that they have equal responsibility here, and that they must always take accountability for their actions.

Teenagers are still children: help your child enjoy his or her teenage years as a child.

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