Karen de Kock, MPL
DA Northern Cape – Provincial Spokesperson of Health & Social Development
The Democratic Alliance is deeply concerned about the apparent rise in teenage pregnancies in the Northern Cape. This comes after the HOD of the provincial health department, Gugulethu Matlaopane, yesterday indicated in a media report that ‘teenage pregnancy has escalated’.
Teenage pregnancy cannot merely be dismissed as ‘naughty teenage behaviour’. Instead, it is a complex problem. Many social and economic factors are at play, which result in promiscuous teenage sexual behaviour. At the same time, teen pregnancy is a major health issue and the health system carries the cost of birth, antenatal and postnatal care. Given the above, teenage pregnancy is a serious problem and affects not only individuals and families, but also the economy.
The DA believes that while any pregnant teenage girl must be given the best emotional, psychological and physical support possible during pregnancy and after birth, we believe it is also necessary to deal with the behavioural causes of this epidemic because only then, will we start to see a tangible decline in the rates of teen pregnancies amongst the youth.
In this regard, the DA is of the firm view that the Northern Cape Department of Social Development should focuses more attention on addressing the societal circumstances within which many teenagers find themselves. This includes dealing with the breakdown of family structures, family values and moral norms; the breakdown of community values and the increased exposure to social evils such as drug and substance abuse; the existence of abusive relationships, inter-generational relationships and multiple partners; as well as inadequate sex education before the age of 14.
The DA in the Northern Cape will itself be focusing on the troubling matter of teenage pregnancies during June, which also happens to be “Youth Month”. To this end, we also plan on finalizing a provincially orientated policy document to speak to the matter of managing teenage learners in school.