Teen pregnancies linked to drug use

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Machakos children’s officer Salome Muthama joins schoolgirls in a jig when she paid a visit to Machakos Rescue Centre on Tuesday. Photo/PD/Peter Mutuku

Mutuku Mwangangi

Drug and substance abuse have been cited among the major reasons behind the increasing number of  teenage pregnancies in Machakos county.

This comes amid a report by a state agency that nearly 4,000 school girls had been impregnated in the last three months, 200 of them being under 14 years. 

The alarming situation has also been attributed to the long school holiday occasioned by the Corona pandemic, prolonged exposure of the teenage girls to online content, pornographic sites and obscene scenes in televisions.

According to a report by Kenya Health Information System survey, more than 28 girls get pregnant in Machakos daily with 3,964 of them being below the age of 19.

Out of the 3,974 girls, the report shows that Masinga had the highest number of cases at 601, followed by Athi River Sub-county with 561 cases, Mwala (526), Matungulu (503), Yatta  (462), Kathiani (399), Kangundo (323), Machakos (259) and Kalama (148).

Speaking during the celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child at Machakos Rescue Centre in Katoloni, Machakos town, county children’s officer Salome Muthama said there was need for the parents to regulate whatever their children consume either online or on TV.

 “As we celebrate this day here today, just within this Covid-19 period alone, some 4,000 girls have been impregnated in our county.

This is a very big number and I am calling upon parents to involve themselves fully in taking care of their children especially the girl child,” the officer added.

And yesterday, Muthama, who described the situation as worrying ,blamed parents for not taking keen interest in bringing up their children. 

 She said following the partial lockdown of major towns including Nairobi and Mombasa due to Covid-19 pandemic, most parents had sent their children to the rural areas where they are being taken care of by aged grandparents who are unable to take keen care of the youths. 

Return to school

“These helpless grandmothers are not able to closely watch over the youths, and as a result the young ones are introduced to bad habits or even molested by peers and other unscrupulous people thus leading to such calamities such as these pregnancies,” she observed.

“Parents should stay with their children so that they watch over them closely and provide appropriate guidance instead of dumping them at their grandparents’ homes claiming that they are protecting them from the Corona pandemic,” she said.

Although Muthama assured that action will be taken against those involved in the heinous act,she disclosed that the department has been receiving overwhelming reports on complaints thus necessitating the research.

Asked the criteria used to obtain the data, the officer said they relied on own data on case load, hospitals and reports from provincial organisations as well as interviews on traceable cases.

Governor Alfred Mutua, who posted on his Twitter account another document showing the number of cases of teenage pregnancies in all the 47 counties which we could not independently verify, condemned the overwhelming cases of teenage pregnancies in the county even as he urged members of the society to protect the innocence of children at the family units.

“In Machakos, all pregnant girls will be encouraged and enabled to attend classes. They should be in school when schools reopen,” read a post on his official twitter account

Mutua said there is need to take stern action against the culprits as they “cannot have girls excluded from education while boys who made them pregnant are in class improving their chances of success in life”.

He urged the Ministry of Education to ensure all pregnant girls are not stopped from attending school.

Arrest culprits

 Machakos County Commissioner  Esther Maina, who warned Chiefs and their assistants  that they will be held responsible for any defilement that happens in the society, regretted that most of the cases involving parents go unreported thus worsening the situation.

“We need to be a  responsible society, rape cases involving the fathers go unreported. We  have a  trend of hiding the perpetrators and  I am sure we will get to the bottom line. We will not allow a  trend that children will be  bearing other children,” she said.

The County police commander Karanja Muiruri said police will be  on the lookout to ensure that they arrest all those behind the said actions.

 “We have received only 40 cases that are in court; we are very surprised by the report. We  have not received anything more in any of our eight stations, this means that these cases are not being reported,” he said.

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