No health access without parents
Young people should not be allowed access to health care services without the permission or involvement of their parents.
This was the view of the majority of online readers who were responding to a Nation Talkback on this issue.
Last Saturday, executive director of the Barbados Family Planning Association George Griffith said there was a proposal to have teenagers, some as young as 14, to receive services in Government clinics even if parents are not involved.
Griffith noted that births to teenage mothers were on the rise and more young people were becoming sexually active at an early age, adding that the country must face up to the reality of teenage sexuality.
Here is what some of our readers had to say on this proposal:
Sherrie Bumbray: “Although I agree that sexually active teens or teens who are thinking of becoming sexually active should have access to birth control, I am not a fan of treating children below the age of consent without the parents knowing”.
Gabrielle Crichlow: “I think children under the age of consent should not be allowed to receive healthcare without parental advice, as long as this parental influence does not endanger the child’s well-being”.
Raquel Gilkes: “I think it is extremely irresponsible and possibly illegal to offer minors health care without parental consent. I am not even so concerned about moral fiber as [I am about] legal and social implications. The point of having a line between minority and majority is because we acknowledge that persons below a certain age need parental guidance. And while 16 or 18 is not a magic age where you are suddenly wise, it is still the law. I also do not know how neglecting to inform parents is supposed to ‘help’ the situation”.
Susie Caponie: Child, means that the individual with that title is dependent on an adult for care. Having sex at an early age doesn’t make one an adult . However, a child should not be denied access to care but the parent should be notified that the child was given care. Once notified, the parent and the child should receive some counselling that would help to bridge the obvious communication gap which exists”.
Michael Ramsay: “There is a plan to give teenagers, even those below the age of consent, access to health services at clinics without their parents.” This is a sexual encouragement not a deterrent. It’s no better than handing out condoms. Most teenage girls will say: “If he use a condom, I am safe. If my parents don’t know, I can freely have sex”.
There were also some who saw the benefits of young people accessing health services without the knowledge of their parents
Luke Alisia: “It aggravates me that people consider 15 and 16 year olds children. Though they are not fully mature, they are at a particular stage of maturity which is very different from a four-year old… Allowing health care to minors without the parent could help girls who come from an abusive family, or similar sensitive situations where the parent is not doing what is best for the child. In an ideal world, parents would have a good enough relationship to their kids to know what is going on in their lives, and guide them along the way, but you can’t make laws as if everyone fits in that perfect mould.
Joy Wharton: “If the parents cannot do the job well someone needs to step in and help. Some of these parents need parenting themselves. Why? They too are had teenage pregnancies, so they are yet young, and the end result is children having children.”
(Compiled by Carol Martindale)