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Teen births on rise – again

Sanka Price

Teen births on rise – again

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BIRTHS TO TEENS are on the rise again in Barbados.
In fact, for the last eight years, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of teenage births. And this worrying trend has prompted one social worker to call for a comprehensive sex education programme at all levels in the country.
According to provisional figures for 2009 from the Barbados Statistical Department, the last year for which official statistics are available, 525 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth last year, the highest number recorded since 2002.
This number represents 16.4 per cent of the total number of births recorded – the highest percentage increase of such births since 2002.
According to George Griffith, executive director of the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA), this increase in teen births can only be effectively tackled
“We can only see on the record the number of births to teens.
What we don’t know is the precise number of pregnancies. And I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess as to . . . how many they are [but] there is every reason to believe that the number of pregnancies far outnumber the births,” he told the DAILY NATION yesterday.
Griffith was speaking after his overview of the BFPA’s Family Life Education and Peer Counselling Training 2010 Programme at the course’s recent graduation ceremony, in which he calledfor its expansion as a way of rebuilding community relations nationwide.  
The BFPA head said because the majority of those having children were lacking in the most basic parenting skills imaginable, “this country is in need of this programme multiplied all across these fields and hills we proudly call our own”.
“It is my hope and prayer that this training, which is so necessary for the support and development ting and for the guidance of individuals, families and communities, will not be a casualty of any austerity measures now or in the future.
“As difficult as it is, we cannot afford to lose ground in the area of sexual and reproductive health.  To do so would set this country back, and the cost of recovery would be too daunting a thought even to contemplate,” Griffith said.
He added: “As a boy I heard that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.  In today’s world of sexuality what you don’t know can kill you.”

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