(SAVF Media Release: 5 May 2011)
According to Erna Rheeder, SAVF parent and family coordinator, there are many factors that contribute to the alarming number of teen pregnancies. According to the latest figures published by the Human Science Research Council, 62 out of 1000 school going girls fall pregnant annually; black teenagers from poor urban areas being most at risk. “Teenage pregnancy is a complex phenomenon. Amongst others, factors such as poverty and HIV/Aids contribute to rise in teen pregnancies, while the stigmatization surrounding teenage pregnancies worsen the situation”, Rheeder said.
The SAVF, one of the largest NGO’s in South Africa, is actively involved in the prevention of teenage pregnancies, as well as supporting pregnant teens.
The NGO follows a holistic approach when it comes to teenage pregnancy. SAVF recently re-launched its parent and family guidance program by the name of Famnet. With this program SAVF aim to help prevent social problems such as teen pregnancy by equipping parents and caregivers with the necessary tools to be able to lead and support children through their different development stages.
“Recent statistics released by the Institute of Race Relations show that 44% of South African children living in urban areas are raised by single parents. Single parenting is a daunting task; often all financial and child related responsibilities rest solely on the shoulders of one person. A parent or caregiver often feels overwhelmed. In some instances the hardships of modern day parenting manifest in the children through social problems such as teen pregnancy or substance abuse. If we support and empower our families through programs such as Famnet, it will have a positive effect on social problems such as teen pregnancy. Healthy families will create a healthy society”, Rheeder said.
SAVF not only renders preventative service; the organisation also supports pregnant teens by taking these girls under their wing at the Armstrong Berning Trauma Centre in Tshwane. “Girls of school going age stay at the Centre for the duration of their pregnancy. A prerequisite of the Centre is that the girls must continue with their formal education while in our care. Therapy is rendered by a multi disciplinary team. The girls who choose to raise their babies are given prenatal and parenting classes. In the case of adoption, the girls are given the emotional support needed and guidance to make an informed decision that will be in her and her baby’s best interest. SAVF social workers also render after-care services to the girl and her family after the birth”, Rheeder said.
“With teen pregnancies being a growing phenomenon, the SAVF welcomes Kwazulu/Natal MEC Senzo Mchunu “My Life, My Future” initiative. We applaud the provinces’ approach in involving teenagers, parents, educators and communities in tackling this problem. It is of utmost importance that all stakeholders work together in preventing teen pregnancies, as well as supporting those girls that fall in this trap. We hope that other provincial governments will soon follow suit with similar campaigns”, Rheeder said.