Madam Esther Mbilla, the Bongo District Adolescent Focal Person, says parental negligence and irresponsibility are major causes of risky adolescent sexual behaviour resulting in high teenage pregnancy.
She said lack of attention, control and the inability of parents to provide for the needs of their adolescent children particularly girls pushed them into transactional sex which most of the time resulted in unwanted pregnancies.
“In a lot of our community engagements, we have realised that some of the adolescents complained of lack of support from their parents and we also found out that some parents do not play their roles as expected and we think that has been one of the major contributory factors of teenage pregnancy in this area,” she said.
Madam Mbilla was speaking in Bongo in the Upper East Region, at a stakeholder meeting organised by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), a Non-Governmental Organisation, on the implementation of a project to end teenage pregnancy in the district.
The project was being implemented in five communities in the district to engage adolescents and other stakeholders to fight the menace of teenage pregnancy and promote girl-child education. It is part of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) adolescent girls’ empowerment project with funding support from the Global Affairs Canada.
The Adolescent Focal Person said parents were key players in the development and growth of adolescent children which was key to fighting teenage pregnancy and that apart from creating effective communication with their adolescent children, there was the need for parents to endeavour to provide basic needs such as sanitary pads to their girls.
She said parents needed to understand the changes in their wards and empower them with accurate sexual and reproductive health information to enable them to make informed choices regarding their sexuality.
This, she said, would prevent teenage girls from giving themselves out to men in exchange for help.
Madam Rita Abamah, the Bongo District Girl Child Officer, Ghana Education Service, urged parents to be responsible for their children and discipline them at home when they go wayward.
Pognaba Felicia Agamboka, Queen-mother of Feo community, expressed disappointment in parents who shirk their responsibilities and rather demand gifts from their daughters, swaying that such parents compelled their children to indulge in irresponsible sex.
She said apart from the fact that teenage pregnancy continued to put the district in the spotlight for bad reasons which were truncating the future of the district, particularly in the area of girls’ education and women empowerment.
She, therefore, entreated traditional authorities including queen mothers to join the efforts to educate the youth to ensure that all stakeholders played their roles to curb the menace.
Mr Martin Anyoka, Bongo Field Officer, PPAG, said lack of accurate sexual and reproductive health education had been the bane for adolescents especially girls, to make informed decisions.
The meeting brought together stakeholders from the Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Gender Desk Office, Social Welfare and Community Development, traditional authorities and assembly members among others.