In recent times, there has been an increase in population in the Niger Delta region especially in Bayelsa. This is as result of the rising rate of single mothers in this part of the world. Most single mothers are victims of unwanted pregnancies.
Girls within the range of 13-21 have a greater risk of becoming single mothers, 8 among 10 aged 13 to 20 are active sexually which makes them prone to early and teenage pregnancy. A number of them see abortion as the only way to avoid pregnancy. This negative experience continues because much has not been done to get rid of the problem.
A number of things can be traced as causes of this unholy act of early child pregnancy that is eating up the girls of this region. In the research, three problems where highlighted as the common causes of infant pregnancy and fast rising rate of younger grandmothers.
POOR FAMILY PLANNING:
This is becoming more consequential in the 21st century unlike the ancient times where men believe that the more children you have the more hands available to help in farm tasks.
This ideology is fast becoming obsolete in a post-modern world like ours today where more emphasis is placed on space technology, industrialization, education and the general well being of the children. Children who are born into polygamous or populous homes where the resources to take care of every member of the family are limited end up going out to sort for a better life. In the quest for a better life they fall prey to various kinds of mishap and abuse.
The girl child faces the worst of it all because a majority of them trade their bodies for a living and turn out becoming victims of rape, unwanted pregnancies and even sexually transmitted diseases. Only 1 in every 3 girls that comes from a home with poor family background complete their education and make a home without being forced into early marriage as a result of unplanned pregnancy.
LACK OF SEX EDUCATION:
Many parents fail to educate their children sexually, thus keeping them ignorant of those little tricks that preys can use to deceive teenagers. Sex education creates awareness on the dangers of indulging in sexual intercourse at a early age. However, parents sometimes feel shy discussing issues of sexuality with their teenage children.
This can also affect the upbringing of the girl child. Poverty has forced my poor parents to send their wards to family relatives and friends as house helps. Often times, these children have been abused by their guardians.
Another way through which child abuse are carried out is during festive celebrations when children go to visit relatives and friends. Pedophiles have used these festive periods by luring them with material and monetary gifts to prey on innocent young girls, which often results in unwanted pregnancies. Many of the victims are going through depression and nobody to speak to, as their perpetrators are constantly threatening them to shut up or face dire consequences if they attempt to expose them. Some of the girls have been threatened with death if they do.
Sadly, single mothers are faced with a lot of challenges in the society. They tend to be neglected as they are majorly seen as second hand which results to them having low self esteem. A number of the single mothers are forced to stay on their own because of intimidation and discrimination which they also face even in their homes. Some of them are at risk of having more children because some men who see them as timid and low self esteemed persons take advantage of them and abandon them with another child to cater for.
Some are made second wives in some cases. Many single mothers are ignorant of their motherly roles which at the long run make the children go through the same mistake they went through, hence at the age of 40 most women who where single mothers at their teens have already become grandmothers.
From research majority of the criminals, prostitutes and even bad leaders are products of infant pregnancy and unplanned marriages. Lets take a look at the generational tree of single mothers and particularly the girl child and you will see the possibility of women of 40 years becoming a grandmother. For example, grandmother Ema gave birth to her daughter Ebi and she has a daughter called Tina who is already a mother with baby Debor. Ema also has a child who is 25years old, Grace. The daughter has two children, Soebi and Caro. Caro has a baby called Eva.
NAIJAVOXPOP correspondent went into the streets to get the opinion of teenage mothers.
According to a teenage mother, Mercy is worried about the plight of teenage mothers. Mercy said as a victim, she understands perfectly what it means to be one.
Is the lack of information about sex education responsible for the rising tide of teenage pregnancies in our communities?
“There are many factors responsible for teenage pregnancy. And one of the main reasons responsible for the incidence of teenage pregnancy is the lack of awareness on the dangers of the vice. A lot of teenage mothers are ignorant because of their low level education. As a result of poverty, many of us can’t go to school. Even when you manage to get education you end up coming back to the village because of no job. This has continued to dissuade young girls from showing interest in education, especially in the rural areas, they feel there is no need for education. There is a saying that says that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. So when they are idle, evil thoughts will come to their minds, especially how to make money and the easiest means they would think of is prostitution, which often leads to unwanted pregnancies.
Young girls lack information about sex education. Without knowledge on sex education teenage girls are exposed to illicit sex.
It would be of great help to have more non-governmental organizations and state orientation agencies educate the public on the dangers of indiscriminate sex, especially in the rural areas. And if this is done, teenage pregnancy would be reduced to the lowest levels.”
As a teenage mother what were the challenges that you faced?
“It was not easy for me because everything about my future plans were halted. I faced serious financial problems, especially with the upkeep of my child, as the father of my child refused to take responsibility. My parents were disappointed in me and the situation became very terrible and shameful. I suffered stigma in my community, even among my peer group. At one point I contemplated suicide. They were days where I had to beg on the streets to get food for my child.
It was unfortunate that while I was dating my boyfriend, I did not think of the consequences. My boyfriend ended up asking me to abort the baby and when I could not get money to carry it out, he practically denied the pregnancy. This is what most teenage mothers went through? It is only on rare occasions that fathers of the babies would accept the pregnancies, mostly when they are from a rich background and the boys have the courage to face their parents and those of the girl.
I did not get help from my parents; the whole load of raising my child was on me. It got to a point I started doing part time jobs. It wasn’t easy, It sad that teenage mothers, even those who are victims don’t get help from the government. At least, the government should assist them to help reduce the burden of bringing up the children.
Children of teenage mothers grow up with many psychological problems. Most times, they are subjects of gossips in their community and school. They are often discriminated and laughed at because of their nature of birth. Children come home from school to tell their mothers that friends insulted their parentage by calling them bastards. This development leads to emotional trauma for the kids, thereby affecting their education. Many children involved in several social vices today, such as robbery and militancy have associated their involvement to the lack of poor family background, which teenage pregnancy is an offshoot of.”
What advice do you have for young girls?
“My advice to teenage girls is that they should zip up and have a better vision and mission for themselves. As a teenager, all you should do is to focus on your education seek knowledge that would develop your skill sets. By doing this, you would end up becoming an idol to other young teenagers.
Study loans should be made available for students who find it difficult to see themselves through school.
Unwarranted teenage pregnancies are a social problem. Government should create job opportunities to reduce poverty in the society because if a lot of people are gainfully employed, especially young mothers, it would enable them to raise their kids responsibly.
More so, teenage girls should be taught sex education in school. Sex education should be introduced into the school curriculum in order to teach girls on the do’s and don’ts of sex.”