The Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu wrapped up the last day of Child Protection Week by calling on government departments to work together in addressing the scourge of high teenage pregnancy.
The minister was speaking at KwaMbonambi in Richards Bay northern KwaZulu-Natal where she interacted with young people from the area.
The Umkhanyakude District Municipality has some of the highest numbers of teenage girls who fall pregnant.
It’s reported that there are 269 girls aged between 10 and 14 who gave birth in the district last year.
Government says teenage pregnancy remains a serious developmental challenge which jeopardizes the health and educational outcomes of the girl child.
For one 17 year-old grade 12 pupil, who is currently eight months pregnant, failure to obey her grandmother’s has led to her pregnancy.
“She says I can not tell a lie. The reason why I fell pregnant was because I refused to listen to my grandmother and I am now in this situation. It is important to listen to adults”, says the young mother to be.
A teen father has also realised the effects of his actions as he is no longer a priority at home, as money is redirected to his baby.
“It is very had to be a young father because I am still at school. At home I am no longer able to ask for things that I like. The priority now is my child. I cannot even afford to get soccer boots”, says the young father.
The minister says a joint strategy by all government departments is needed to combat pregnancy amongst teenagers.
“We must accept the fact that this is something that we need to work with from families. Starting with neighbors and street to street discussions. Bring the private sector for messaging- what we need to do not only as government is to unite as a country and say this cannot be happening right under our eyes.”
“This cannot be happening when we have he capacity to deal with it. Which also includes ensuring that the Department of Education not only Basic Education and Higher Education, the Department of Health, the Department of Youth Women and people living with disabilities and the Department of Social Development ,we work together and have coordinated programs”, says Zulu.
The department says it aims to deploy additional social workers who will conduct home visit to encourage people to speak out if there are issues of abuse.