Now look, we all know that Americans have a lot of time on their hands. But seriously, could the girls of Gloucester High School really not have started a knitting circle or something? Alas, no, 17 of these flowers of American youth are pregnant
, supposedly because of a pact made so they could share this experience with each other.
Could this happen here? I fear it easily could, what with the many repeats on SABC daytime television, and a lack of facilities for teens to do something constructive with their two weeks of winter holidays. South African teenagers have already discovered the entertainment value of sex. There may be a movement towards a new abstinence in certain religious circles, yet many are ruled by their hormones. Still, sex is one thing, and pregnancy something else all together. Some teenagers make good parents, but raising children is hard enough without the added challenge of still being at school.
I have never wanted to believe the myth that South African teenagers are deliberately falling pregnant to be able to sign up for the child grant. This seems like a cynicism born of the older generation’s worldview. We must face some hard facts, though. Despite the best efforts of Life Orientation teachers across the land, the kids have not got the abstinence message, or the condomise one.
According to the MRC’s South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (2002), 19,1% of sexually active female high school learners has been pregnant. Financial need and that attractive grant may play a part for some, but foolishness surely also has a major role to play. In Limpopo, which according to the MRC’s survey has the highest pregnancy levels among high school learners (29,8%), only 11% of the high school males surveyed said they had made anyone pregnant. So either the province of the rising sun is home to a small bunch of very virile young baby machines, or the baby daddies in many of these cases are not in high school.
Cue the outrageous piece of information that one of the “fathers” in the Gloucester pregnancy pact was a 24-year-old homeless man. Desperate not to be left out of the group’s latest fad, this young girl collected a donation from the nearest viable-looking male human.
Could it be that the world over, teenage girls are in a stupid phase? And could it be that teenage boys – and passing men -- just want to get their rocks off and damn the consequences? With genetic imperatives like those, I fear the next generation might be worse off, and stupider than ever.Are teen pregnancies a problem? Or is it just kids doing what comes naturally?
Mother of a teen and a tween, Adele Hamilton
is the editor of Parent24. She always likes to know the right way to do things, but seldom succeeds in doing it quite that way.