Teenage Pregnancy: An Ignored But Deleterious Endemic Among Female Adolescent Liberians

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By: Oumar Folata

The past decade has seen a proliferation of teenage pregnancies in many parts of rural and urban Liberia. Teenage pregnancy has fast become chronic, detrimental to the lives of young girls and an obstacle to the actualization of their potential. Although a considerable number of volunteer campaigns and literature have grown around the theme of teenage pregnancy, it has only received a little critical attention from the government of Liberia. Furthermore, it has been normalized by many families and communities.

Hence, since teenage pregnancies in Liberia are mostly outside marriage, a seed of lineage of bastardization (the grandfather is an illegimate child, the father is an illegimate child, and the child is an illegimate child) is now planting itself in many families and communities.

The issue of teenage pregnancy is of paramount importance because those teenage mothers, as well as their children, are central to the future of the nation, as they are all part and parcel of the present generation. And it is spiritually indubitable that a legitimate nation is cursed when it is filled with illegitimate citizens.

Several investigations have identified common socioeconomic factors fostering the spread of teenage pregnancies in Liberia. One of the best-known of these factors is teenage self-support. A number of reports from well-done research indicate that many teenagers are not being supported by either of their parents; therefore, they are bootstrapping themselves to school and eking out a living by selling themselves through direct or indirect commercial sex. As a consequence, they are being subjected to all kinds of physical and sexual abuse, and they have to eat dirt because it is the only source of earning a living for them to survive.

Another factor is being oblivious to their menstrual periods. Being cognizant of how menstruation, or the menstrual cycle, works is an adequate safety precaution against teenage pregnancy as well as unwanted pregnancy.

The menstrual cycle is the system of a woman’s body that prepares her for a possible pregnancy every month. Knowing how the menstrual cycle works helps women decide whether to get pregnant or to avoid getting pregnant.The best way for a woman to be familiar with her cycle is to observe the calendar, along with some details on bleeding and symptoms. She ought to memorize when her period begins and ends, and she has to know the state of change that occurs within her normal body when getting her period. Many teenagers are vulnerable to teenage pregnancy due to a lack of the aforementioned basic knowledge.

Teenage pregnancy is associated with the increased risks of the following:

  • In most cases, it is universally believed that the teenage mother’s reproductive system is impaired during childbirth as a result of her child’s low birth weight or capability.
  • Most teenage mothers are forced to drop out of school because it becomes difficult for them to nurture and nourish their children and, at the same time, go to school.
  • Most children of teenage mothers grow up with terrible diseases like marasmus, kwashiorkor and other chronic infections as a result of malnutrition and undernutrition.
  • Most children of teenage mothers are animal-like raised, unwell-mannered, and unrefined because of a lack of good upbringing and education on account of the premature motherhood of their mothers.

In conclusion, the solution to terminate or minimize the high rate of teenage pregnancy in Liberia is not an atomistic approach—a holistic approach needs to be taken. That is to say, an approach should not only aim at changing the immoral habits of girls but also tackle those root causes of teenage pregnancy, such as empowering the law of parental support or child support. Parents should be able to stand for the responsibility of their teenage children so that young girls do not face the difficulties of self-sponsorship, which compels them to engage in commercial sexual activities. A massive campaign of simplistic sexuality education and adequate utilization of contraception and family planning should be organized for young girls.

According to the World Health Organization, family planning prevents unintended pregnancy; family planning prevents deaths of mothers and children; family planning reduces the need for abortion, especially unsafe abortion; family planning reinforces people’s rights to determine the number and spacing between their children; family planning methods, such as condoms, help prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

So, let’s fight teenage pregnancy together. It must be stopped!

About the Author:

Oumar Folata, whose real name is Oumaru F. Sheriff, is a Liberian writer, researcher and youth leader. He is the author of “Rise and Fall of Revolutionary Primates” and ” The Students’ Goldmine”. He served as a student leader during high school, and has mentored many students. He has founded or co-founded many youth organizations in Liberia. He is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul, Turkey.

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