Two Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the Upper West Region have attributed the increasing rate of teenage pregnancy in the region and the country at large to poor parental guidance.
The CSOs, Pronet North and Community Development Alliance, said it was worrying that some parents shirked their responsibilities of caring for the basic needs of their children, which forced them to seek those needs elsewhere.
The CSOs told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in separate interviews in Wa in relation to the reported cases of 687 girls returning to school pregnant in the Upper West Region after the COVID-19 school closure.
“Sometimes you see young girls late in the night and you wonder whether these girls have parents. What kind of parent are you that you will be sleeping at home whilst your teenage daughter is out there late in the night and you are not worried,” Madam Catherine Amissah, the Deputy Director of Pronet North, said.
She indicated that in as much as children needed to be allowed to exercise their right and freedom, parents ought to shape their children to realize that “rights go with responsibility” and that there was “time for everything”.
She explained that social norms had also made it difficult for sexually active youth, especially girls to opt for Family Planning, which had hampered the fight against the menace of teenage and unwanted pregnancies.
“These days Ghana Health Services has made a lot of in-rolls in providing adolescent friendly Family Planning centres, but there is a social tag to those centres.
“The fact that society frowns on a girl getting involved in sexual activities before marriage then predefines that a girl cannot even take a FP concept before marriage,” Madam Amissah explained.
Mr. Salifu Issifu Kanton, the Executive Director for CDA, said lack of sex education also pre-exposed the girl child to teenage pregnancy.
He noted that most of the girls fell victim of teenage pregnancy due to parents shirking their parental responsibility of educating their children on Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health.
“Many parents don’t behave like parents, so you’ve given birth to children, the food they eat, you don’t know, you don’t even know whether they wear panties or not, you don’t even know where they sleep,” Mr. Kanton observed.
The CSOs also identified financial hardships as a contributing factor to the rising cases of teenage pregnancy and advocated the need for social and financial interventions for poor families and young girls to help them become self-reliant.
Mr. Kanton also stressed the need for safeguarding children wherever they found themselves including the educational institutions to guard against being sexually exploited by unscrupulous adults including teachers.