All of her friends are in school, but she sits at home all day thinking of her unborn baby. A child has made a child, so who takes care of who?
Sixteen years old and pregnant Maria* (not her real name) has just dropped out of school where she was in Grade 6. She now sits at home with her mother, who has four other children to take care of, and to worsen matters their father is nowhere to be found.
She is not the only teenager in such shoes. Many teenagers in the region and countrywide have fallen pregnant while at school and this year’s statistics on teenage pregnancy in the region is “alarming”, says the //Karas regional school counsellor, Maree Smit.
According to statistics, a total of 81 cases were recorded this year during the first and second terms, which is already by far higher than the total number of cases for all three terms in 2014 (68) and 2013 (64).
The statistics indicate that since 2013 there has been an increase in teenage pregnancy in the region and more cases are normally recorded during the second term which is from May to August, than during the first and third terms.
In 2013, 17 cases were recorded in the first, 26 in the second and 21 in the third term, while there was a slight increase in 2014 as 22, 23 and 23 cases were recorded in the first, second and third terms, while this year the number has abruptly shot up to 36 and 45 cases in the first and second terms, respectively.
Revealing the worrisome statistics, Smit says the majority of the cases recorded involve older girls between the ages of sixteen and above, but there are also few cases at primary schools, which mean these girls may be between the ages of twelve and thirteen, which implies rape.
She says most girls are impregnated by out of school youth and even older men, adding that if numbers are anything to go by then the total figure for this year would reach the 100 mark by the end of the year.
“It will definitely be more than a hundred,” she pointed out.
Asked what might be the main causes of the unpleasant situation, she explained that a multitude of factors might be contributing to the problem, such as poverty, lack of good values and absent fathers, among others.
Smit said that girls see men as a ticket to riches and a way out of their misery and poverty, and thus get involved with older men to be taken care of.
“Girls see getting pregnant and being supported by men as a way out of poverty, which is wrong,” she stressed.
She also pointed out that single-parent households, which are usually headed by mothers, can be a contributing factor because the only father figure the young girls see is outside their house and they then try “all the way to impress the men”.
“So the first man that looks at me and gives me attention, I will give him everything,” she stated in reference to the possible attitudes of the young schoolgirls who are falling pregnant.