Nandi County Children Services Coordinator Hellen Wanyama has linked the surge in teenage pregnancies in the county to poor parenting.
This comes after a report released by the department of Health and Sanitation indicated that pregnancy cases since July 2019 to June 2020 shot to 7,500 up from 3,000.
In an interview with KNA Wanyama said that majority of the parents do not have enough information on how to deal with the girl child and the issues affecting them.
“Many parents shy away from talking with their children on sex matters and thus the girls are always left to experiment and discover on their own making them easy prey to unscrupulous men,” she explained.
Wanyama said in addition, children also suffer from neglect by their parents which leads to some of them engaging in affairs to fill the gap left by the parents.
“Girls are prone to cheap gifts that they crave hence giving in to sexual advances from the opposite gender, consequently reciprocating by giving in to the demands,” Wanyama said.
However, Wanyama says that the department of Children Services has put in place measures to help curb the current abnormal surge in teenage pregnancies.
She pointed that they have recruited 50 child protection volunteers who go round locations monitoring the trends and create awareness to the girl child on how to deal with relationships.
The county also has locational Area Advisory Councils chaired by chiefs in the locations. The councils hold meetings on a monthly basis to discuss the progress and remedial measures to be adopted before matters get out of hand.
“Some of the girls also receive Sh2,000 stipend channeled through the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Cash transfer program to enable them meet their livelihoods thus cushioning them against engaging in transactional sex,” Wanyama added.
The Coordinator urged members of the public to report cases of child abuse to her office though the 116 helpline so that the issues can be managed in good time.
On his part, the County Director Health and Sanitation Dr. David Bungei called upon the members of the public to desist from linking the surge in teenage pregnancies to the outbreak of Covid -19, which forced the closure of schools.
“The figures we saw recently in the media across the country on teenage pregnancies termed to be alarming have actually been there all along only that they had not been brought into the limelight before”, said Dr Bungei.
Dr Bungei cites several factors that contribute to girls falling prey including low income households forcing them to engage in transactional sex to support their families for survival, gateway to access essential needs such as sanitary towels, sexual violence, cultural factors (early marriages) among others.
“To address this issue of teenage pregnancy, we need to collectively confront the hard truths and realities of the issue with honesty and openness”, says Dr Bungei.
Data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey report 2014 shows that one in every five girls between the ages of 15-19 is pregnant or already a mother.
The latest statistics in 2019 from Global Childhood Kenya has the third highest teen pregnancy rate at 82 per 1000 births.
By Bethsheba Abuya