While teenage and unwanted pregnancies remain a concern for St. Lucia, Director of the St Lucia Planned Parenthood Association (SLPPA) Audrey George has said that this issue calls for greater involvement of parents in early sex education.
According to George, the issue stems from the reluctance of parents to engage in sex education talks with their children from an early age.
“Parents need to talk to kids concerning early sexual activity. We at SLPPA do it with the young people, but unless it is enforced by adults, then they will feel that it is okay,” George added.
The director explained that some parents aren’t aware of the situation (teenage pregnancy) and even those that are aware, seem uncomfortable to deal with the issue, leaving it to peers to tell them about it.
George said while there have been some decline in teen pregnancy in schools, there are still a number of teenagers that are caught in the situation of unwanted pregnancies.
The SLPPA, she said, has done a number of parent-education programmes. At least 10 training sessions were conducted with parents last year, which focused on how to combat teenage and unwanted pregnancies.
Representatives from 15 CARICOM member states gathered in St. Lucia for the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) meeting in April, to set up a task force to assist with the reduction of teenage pregnancy within the region.
It was recognised during this meeting that teenage pregnancy is becoming a huge issue and strategies must be implemented to reduce it. A strategy to reduce teenage pregnancy by 20 percent over a five year period (2014 – 2019) was later approved.
Parents can actively get involved in sex education in a number of ways. It is advised that parents could talk to their child/children as early as possible about sex and its consequences, be an open parent so that the child could feel free to discuss sex-related issues.
Other ways of being involved include: being a parent with a point of view, expressing views on how one feels about the topic at stake, and to implement rules so as to establish a common ground.
Teenagers can also play a vital role in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies, by educating themselves about sex and its consequences before engaging in sexual activities.
They can educate themselves about the different birth control options that are available through health centres, pharmacies, and various associations such as the SLPPA, practice safe sex by using a condom to avoid the contraction of any Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STI’s), and most importantly, remain focused on the future and life goals.