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Open Letter to parents with pregnant teenagers in Uganda

Caption : Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) and Uganda Police donate  to teenage mothers at the Naguru Teenage Centre.

Government of Uganda did not fail parents. They allowed pregnant teens in candidate classes to go back to school. The number of teenage pregnancies has gone up after the COVID-19 outbreak and continues to grow. Partial Closure of schools continues to expose girls to sexual abuse, gender based violence and early marriages.

This is the time to show up as parents. Show up as a contributor in ways you can contribute to her bright future despite the pregnancy. No parent ever wants their girl child not to thrive and live. Challenges come along the way but a child remains a child. Teens still need guidance and support from a parent even at their worst. It is normal to be unhappy when a child gets pregnant but it should never be a time a parent walks completely out of their life. The best support the pregnant teenager needs is around her biological family .Don’t abandon or chase them you’re your home.

Getting pregnant does not mean a teen should lose their rights to education, Health, accommodation, feeding, justice and feeding. That Pregnant teenager had big dreams in life before she conceived. Give her a second chance that won’t expire. These are now two lives and generations you must stand up for. It is just 9 months remember. Punishing a pregnant girl by marrying her off is another setback and can never give you instant riches as a parent.

Show up with hope, love, gratitude, and vision in your pregnant teen daughter’s life.As a parent, be the source of inspiration and not desperation for the pregnant teenager to help reach their full potential. Some of these girls may not even know what motherhood means yet and all they are worried of is their stomach.

Be the agent that helps the girl access justice regardless of how she conceived. Ensure that the case is reported to police and go through the entire court process. As a parent, say no to the culture of negotiating out of court with perpetrators. Fearing to prosecute relatives and neighbours simply promotes the cycle of abuse. It is possible that the same person who is not taken to court will make more girls pregnant. Child abuse is wider and it is not only limited to rape.

As a parent, prioritize your pregnant teenage girl’s health. Teenage pregnancies come with its complications.  Uganda has a high maternal mortality rate. Teenage girls aged 15-19 years are twice more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth compared to women in their twenties. Ensuring that they don’t miss any antenatal visits is really what matters to the life of your girl and her baby. Avoid seeking medical help outside the approved medical facilities. Seek professional counselling for you, the family and pregnant girl; seek psychological support services through the community development officers and probation officers at the district.

Dear parents, remain positive. “Every problem is a gift—without problems we would not grow.” – Anthony Robbins. There have been many media reports of girls contemplating suicide following the conception and family rejection. In such a condition you don’t want her to start having suicidal thoughts for herself or her unborn baby. Protect the girl and her baby from stigma and rejection. Shame and rejection can be from the school, relatives, and friends has a heavier stroll on her mental health complications for a larger part of her life.

You have a huge responsibility as a parent to help your pregnant teen daughter. Be on alert to protect her from further abuse. If you married off your pregnant teenager or know someone who did, please  report to police and rescue her. After she gives birth, take her back to school. Continue to Speak up against culture that promotes stigma for teen moms.

Ivan N Baliboola

PR and organizational diagnosis specialist

[email protected]

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Written by Baliboola N Ivan

Public Relations and Organisational diagnosis specialist

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