‘Jamaica’s struggle with teenage pregnancy’
Early childbearing is often associated with a young woman’s failure to complete her education, thus limiting her future job prospects and her own and her child’s economic well-being. Among adolescent females in Jamaica who gave birth before their fourth year of secondary school, less than one-third returned to school after the birth of their child.
I tink dat Hallmark will soon cancel Father’s Day in Jamaica because dey are fed up wid de none existent revenues from card sales. Dis is not surprising; during my school days de worse ting yuh could do is tell a man is bout im Madda. Nuff time rockstone fling and people get a buss head fi dat. What yuh neva hear though is a fight brok out fi somebody’s Fadda because nuff people don’t even know who dem Fadda is. Indented in my mind (like a worm in a ripe guava) are memories from my youth of struggling single mothers who dropped out of school because of pregnancies and who now have no other choice but to work as domestic engineers (helpers). Maddas working multiple jobs leads to lack of guidance at an early age for our utes which den is directly responsible for de increase in de number of windshield cleaners at the stoplights in Kingston (nuff time de windshield more dutty dan before dem clean it).
Both boys and girls have inaccurate knowledge about reproductive health and behavior. Clearly defined gender norms regarding sexual behavior were perceived by the 12-year-olds in the focus groups and suggested that boys perceive social encouragement and pressure to be sexually active.
Getting advice from de guidance couselor is like throwing dice or playing cards wid yuh life. School nurse sey'” Don’t worry man, jus tek some asprin and yuh won’t get pregant”
A wonda if is de Obeah man a teach sex education in de schools dese days. Inaccurate knowledge ?!? Wha dem tink; dat yuh cyan only get pregnant during mango season!! It’s very simple people. If yuh have sex and don’t use a condom den dere is a high chance dat yuh going get pregnant. If yuh don’t, den yuh lucky (keep in mind dat even wid a condom there is still not a 100% guarantee of birth control because they are not made Jamaican proof). Obviously we cyannot rely only on de Schools alone to educate our utes about fertility and family planning. We need to give dem de right information at a earlier age because if we don’t den BET, MTV, Hollywood and Elephant Man will. Dis is why parents should be more active and involved in de day to day activities of their children lives (meaning give dem some lick in dem skin when needed).
Concerned over the number of young women who seemingly shun contraceptives and whose education and life prospects have been permanently interrupted by the first of multiple pregnancies, Sharon Hay-Webster (member of Parliament) called for introducing compulsory sterilization (tubal ligation) of young women with more than three children, arguing that “the state cannot cope with the responsibility of so many unwanted childbirths … we are taking care of people … from the womb to the tomb.”
A quota on children!! What are we?? China. Good luck wid dat one. Yuh might as well send Parliament into exile once dey pass dat bill. Dere would be riots and roadblocks in de streets if dat plan was eva implemented. Ms. Webster I am no expert on Sexoligy but I think we need to deal wid de root of de problem instead of trying to contain de effects of it. If we wait, we will be addressing de problem in de future on a much larger scale along wid all de odda social problems it will instigate (kinda like when yuh a wait fi de Government fi fix de pothole dem, by de time dem reach it tun into a Gully).
Despite a strong Christian following in this Caribbean country of 2.6 million, many Jamaicans become sexually active as early as age 14 or younger. Too early sex, according to the Board, is associated with factors such as poverty, absence of male role models at home – nearly half of households are headed by single women – and cultural approval of early childbearing, particularly in poor communities.
At de age of 14 I couldn’t even eat my lunch without getting cheese trix and patty crumbs all ova my kakies. At dat age all I cared about is raiding de neighbor’s mango tree and eating tamarind balls. As a teenager it hard fi juggle school work, de likkle hottie hottie dem at extra lessons, puberty, de latest dance move and de amount of pickpockets on de bus much less fi tek care of a baby. Jamaica ave de world record fi de most churches per square mile but apparently the Chrisianization of our country still does not combat de trend of our teenagers teking their Vitamin ‘S’ pill everyday (I suppose it doesn’t help dat we also have de record from most bars/pubs per square mille).
Instead of blaming and punishing girls, experts argue that more education on parenting, sex education and family planning is needed, particularly aimed at adolescents of both sexes, who represent 20% of the population.
Now fi all de rude bwoy dem in Jamaica; mi a beg yuh, use a condom nuh!! If yuh no plan fi start a family and yuh no ready fi be a Fadda yet den suit up before yuh shub in. Dress im up inna im Sunday best before yuh send im out. Put on yuh ‘rubber’ boots before de flood come. Mi know sey yardman like tings natural and ital but yuh don’t need fi have Babymadda inna all 14 parishes. Fi di girls dem, mi a ask yuh fi walk de straight and narrow and don’t mek de likkle maga foot bwoy dem lead yuh astray. Yuh haffi mek dem know dat di ‘shop lock up fi today’ and yuh not open fi business fi any ole dibi-dibi ute.
About the author
Ray Damdar is a Jamaican living abroad in Hartford, CT amongst the third largest Jamaican population in Merica. He is constantly amused by his culture has no odda choice but to comment. Favorite saying “ beg yuh, put some more gravy pan mi oxtail stew please !!”
Article Excerpts taken from website www.panos.org.UK.news ‘ Jamaica Teen Pregnancy Controversy Heats Up, Cooler Heads Prevail’ and International Family Planning Perspectives Volume 25, Number 2. Commentary courtesy of Guinep Tree Productions.