Talking to your children about sex to lower risk of teenage pregnancy

Talking to your children about sex to lower risk of teenage pregnancy

South Africa is currently dealing with a teenage pregnancy crisis. Here is how parents can take charge. 

Mother and daughter talking
Mother and daughter talking

South Africa is facing major teenage pregnancy crisis.

KwaZulu-Natal recorded 26,515 adolescent pregnancies of young girls aged 10 to 19 between April and December in 2022. According to a News24 report, 1,254 of the pregnancies were girls aged 10 to 14.

The Health MEC in the province, Nomagugu Simelane, has asked parents to intervene. 

"We can talk until blood comes out of our eyes, but if we, as parents and guardians, don't take responsibility for raising our kids properly, nothing will ever change. 

"It is a disgrace that, in this community [Amajuba], we have seen more than seven school-going children falling pregnant in April and May. This is not [only] a government disgrace, but a disgrace, parents, for us, as the black nation, because such things are only happening in the black community. 

"Government is not there when those things happen, and will not come into your house. Get into your room and separate under-age kids who are having sex," said the MEC. 

READ: [LISTEN] Comprehensive Sexuality Education lesson plans placed online

Previously, more than 600 girls aged 9 and 10 gave birth in South Africa in 2020, according to Stats SA.

This means that as soon as children begin to recognise their body parts and are able to understand what they are being taught, parents need to have the sex talk with them.

As awkward as the conversation is, parents can try find ways to make the talk less nerve-wracking. The more you have the conversations with your child, the less awkward it might be. Remember, this cannot be a once-off conversation.

It is reported that children of parents who talk about sex are more likely to put off having intercourse and use protection when they do have sex.

Experts advise that children should be given the correct information because lying might make your children lose their trust in you as their parent. 

For instance, parents can talk to children below the age of five about their body parts and teach them the correct names for those parts. 

"Avoid using immature slang like “down there” or “pee-pee;” instead, teach the correct terminology, like “penis” and “vagina", " states Choosing Therapy website. 

From the age of five until eight, the site says parents should teach their children about inappropriate sexual behaviour from others, for example, they should tell their children that no one is allowed to touch their private parts. 

From age nine, children might start to experience menstruation and need to be taught about and the consequences of sex.

READ: [LISTEN] DBE rejects claims of inappropriate sexual content in syllabus 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives the following guide: 

- Talk about healthy, respectful relationships.

- Communicate your own expectations for your teen about relationships and sex.

- Provide factual information about ways to prevent HIV, STDs, and pregnancy (e.g., abstinence, condoms and contraception, and HIV/STD testing).

- Focus on the benefits of protecting oneself from HIV, STDs, and pregnancy.

- Provide information about where your teen can speak with a provider and receive sexual health services, such as HIV/STD testing.

READ: 3 teachers suspended amid pregnancy crisis at NC school

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