Man talk. Would making contraceptives accessible to teens help solve the problem?
Sure, yes they should. Pretending this is not happening does not actually mean it isn’t happening. We could have raised the children better so that we didn’t have to be in this situation where they grew up too fast. But since we were poor parents, and things have gotten out of hand, the least we can do is acknowledge the bad situation we are in, and move to protect the children from the effect of our negligence.
The whole thing is sick. Ministry of Health experts sat in a boardroom some years ago and came up with guidelines aimed at among other things, dealing with the scary statistics of abortion and teenage pregnancies that now contribute a substantial fraction to maternal mortality in this country.
To think this a crisis and come up with solutions is quite noble on their part. The tragedy though is, it appears to me, the gaps in consultation with parents and other stakeholders on how best to execute their family planning move without courting tension and resistance from parents.
Should children be given pills, if that will fix the issues abound, yes, but that must be handled as a walking on egg shells affair, considering scientific reasons and the concerns of parents delicately. For now the whole thing smells.
Funny thing is, there is evidence from especially the Nordic countries that shows sex education as an effective means of reducing teenage pregnancies - and in our case, reducing maternal mortality, abortion and school dropouts.
But what do we do?
Continue burying our heads in the sand; invoke religion and all manner of noise to evade our responsibility. We wouldn’t be discussing all these things if we figured out a way to teach children about sex.
Now we let them find out on their own and deal with the ugly consequences. We would rather our children self-discover than teach them well, so that we can manage their knowledge, experiences and the outcomes. It is such a Ugandan thing to use illogical methods to solve logical problems.
I think this is a very contentious issue and is going to cause a lot of parents’ distress. If approved, there are going to be moral and ethical implications to the entire community. Therefore, this needs to be thoroughly thought through. When you give a teenager birth control, you might be unknowingly sending them mixed messages. In a way, you are condoning sexual behaviour.
Teens who may have otherwise practiced abstinence, now have a reason to become sexually active. As a parent, you want to stress the importance of abstinence, commitment, respect and responsible behaviour when it comes to relationships for your children.
Someday your teen will become a husband or a wife, and you don’t want them have a confused view of sex and relationships. I think the ministry needs to put its energies in researching alternative choices and long-term benefits before making a final decision on this.