Teen pregnancies an indictment on society
On Tuesday, June 16, Kenya joined the world in marking the Day of the African Child.
The day — whose theme this year was Access to child-friendly justice systems in Africa is commemorated in memory of the June 16, 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa.
The students took to the streets to protest the inferior education imposed on them by the Apartheid regime.
Unfortunately, many governments across Africa still deny children fundamental rights, including access to quality education and proper nutrition and shelter.
The youth lack basic rights and a conducive environment for their growth, development and capacity to thrive in a technologically-driven society. For most, it is a tale of shattered dreams.
And just two days after the country marked this important day, disturbing statistics on teenage pregnancies went viral.
Though the authenticity and source of the data is yet to be confirmed, it is a call to action to arrest the destruction of a generation of the girl-child.
For instance, of the 4,000 teenage pregnancies reported in Machakos county in the last four months, 200 of them are minors below 14.
The teen pregnancies explosion is being blamed the prolonged holiday leading to idleness among learners, exposure to harmful online content and inappropriate television programmes.
Drug and substance abuse, which are on the rise among the youth, particularly school-going teenagers, have also been cited as drivers of the crisis that has dire ramifications on the girl-child education and empowerment. This is an indictment on the government, parents and society.
The government must mobilise sufficient resources and involve all stakeholders to address the emerging national crisis.
And where is the voice and guidance of the religious groups? Muffled and ambivalent, if not loudly silent.
It is unfortunate that religion and proper parenting that gave children and young adults firm footing in terms of values and norms are now the weakest link in stemming the crisis.
But it is never too late to manage the situation. Society must stop burying its head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and acknowledge the problem.
Programmes should also be put in place to take care of those already pregnant and their children, besides ensuring the girls continue with their education.