Over the last few weeks, there has been a trending issue about teenage pregnancies. The issue arose after the alarming number of school aged girls giving birth. The hashtag #EndTeenagePregnancies has been doing rounds on all social media platforms. Recent statistics show that about 152,820 teenage girls have so far become pregnant this year.

Starting late last year (2019), Covid-19 has been spreading across the world. It has affected economies around the world with countries shutting down and placing their countries on lock-down. Kenya has not been left behind on this. Over the last four months, the government closed all learning institutions from primary to the tertiary level. Curfews and cessation of movement were among some of the measures taken by the government in some of the counties.

While these measures are meant to cushion the citizens against the deadly disease, it also saw thousands of people lose jobs and their source of livelihoods. It is for this reason that families are the most affected. Parents are taking their frustrations out on children. This has led the children to run away from home in search of peace and refuge from friends and peers. The children, and in this case our teenage girls, find themselves falling into traps of hungry predators and philanderers. In search of comfort, the girls fall into the hands of people who abuse them sexually and most of them end up getting pregnant.

The other reason why teenage pregnancies have increased is that the tough economy is forcing teenage girls to step up and take the responsibility of providing for their families, as some parents are either sick or drug addicts, have large families or they just cannot take up responsibility for their children. The fact that they are children means they lack skills to take up the formal jobs. The only jobs they can find put them at risk of being defiled, which gets them pregnant. Those that cannot find either job prefer to use what they have to get money and hence they get into prostitution.

Moral decay has also contributed a lot in the issue of teenage pregnancies. We are living in the age of technology where internet has made everything so easy to access. This has both a positive and a negative side. The negative side is that pornographic materials are easily accessible from any device that can access the internet, be it a smart phone or a computer. Now that schools are closed and parents are busy at work, the children have a lot of time on their hands to explore the internet. Children are inquisitive in nature especially at their teens, they want to experiment what they see on the internet. Children engage in sexual activities in order to experiment but since they do not know much about protection and birth control methods, most of them end up getting pregnant.

Some parents have neglected their responsibilities for their children. They do not care to know where their children are, whom they are interacting with or what they are doing with their friends. The sad reality is, when these parents are informed by concerned members of the community about their children’s behaviors, they brush it off as adolescence on their children’s part or that the person relaying the message is jealous of their relationship with their children. This has often times given the children the permission to do whatever they want because the parent will side with them finally. Parents are also too busy making money that they have left children under the care of nannies and teachers. Now that schools have closed, teachers are no longer there to guide and advise the children, the children have out grown the nannies and those that still have them cannot listen to them. The parents have a hard time connecting with their children since they have never been present in their lives. With lack of advice from parents, they seek it from peers who like them are lost

The question remains, who is to blame? Is it the church? The teachers? The government? Parents? The technology? The community? The children themselves? These are questions that we need to ask ourselves if the issues of teenage pregnancies will be solved. We need to ask ourselves this question in order to come up with lasting solutions that will benefit not only this generation but also generations to come. In order to do so we need to be honest with ourselves as a people.

-post by Edith

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