Teenage pregnancy study identifies a pattern and dispels myths

Teenage pregnancy continues to be one of major challenges in South Africa. Last year one school, Park High in Port Elizabeth, had 54 girls falling pregnant.

A study conducted at the AIDS and Society Research Unit, Centre for Social Science Research at the University of Cape Town shows that there is has not been a lot of change in teenage pregnancy patterns over decades.

Medical historian, Dr Rebecca Hodes, explains the changes are not in teenage pregnancy rates, but people's reactions.

Teenage pregnancy seems more apparent now because of how we capture the data because for the first time in South Africa we are beginning to ask about these kind of phenomena, where previously populations were not measured for anything other than a particular aspect of their racial identity.

Dr Rebecca Hodes, medical historian

It used to be something that was assumed or more accepted, but now it's something that's shocking and wrong, and identified as something so objectionable.

Dr Rebecca Hodes, medical historian

In 2013/2014 South Africa's total annual number of pregnant teenagers were comparatively high with approximately 21 000 pregnancies reported among school girls. That's been the case for two or three or four decades that these rates have been relatively high.

Dr Rebecca Hodes, medical historian

Is this a new phenomenon? The research questions whether it is a new phenomenon. The public's response is certainly yes it is a new phenomenon. But the demographic response and data seem to show that there is more continuity than there is change.

Dr Rebecca Hodes, medical historian

Hodes explains that myths associated with causes for teenage pregnancy such as benefiting from a social grant are not true.

They became pregnant because they didn't understand cycles. Their life orientation at school don't seem to convey that clear enough and also because they weren't able to access contraception.

Dr Rebecca Hodes, medical historian

Also a good number of them also wanted to be mothers.

Dr Rebecca Hodes, medical historian

Listen to the full interview with Dr Rebecca Hodes for more research findings...

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