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Published: Saturday December 14, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday December 14, 2013 MYT 4:43:42 PM

Teen sex a serious problem

Strong message: Fatimah (centre) with ministry staff during the press conference in Kuching.

Strong message: Fatimah (centre) with ministry staff during the press conference in Kuching.

KUCHING: There has been an increase in the number of births out of wedlock in Sarawak over the last two years, partly driven by teenage pregnancies.

Increases of unwed mothers between 2011 and last year were recorded in Sibu and Miri, said Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah.

“What is alarming is most are very young. They are under 18 years old,” she told a press conference here.

“This is a very strong message to society that we can no longer sweep the issue of teenage sex under the carpet.”

In Sibu in 2011, hospitals registered 545 births from unwed mothers; in the following year, there were 576 registered. In Miri, there were 188 and 253 such births over the same period.

In Kuching, 829 were registered in 2011, but with two fewer registered last year.

The minister called for more relaxed attitudes on teenage sex between parents and youths.

Parents, she added, played a more crucial role than schools or efforts by the ministry.

“Parents have to accept that healthy relationships are OK. We cannot say, ‘You cannot have a boyfriend’; rather we need to say, ‘It is OK to have boyfriends and girlfriends, but you must understand there are boundaries and responsibilities with regard to your future.’

“Parents also have to treat their boys and girls equally. Parents cannot have one set of rules for girls and another for boys.”

Parents in Sarawak, Fatimah added, by and large, were hesitant to discuss sex with their children.

“I used to teach biology in school, and when it came to teaching my daughter about sex, I told her matter of factly, including things like girls can get pregnant the first time they have sex. That is a fact they need to know (that) it (teenage sex) is always a spur of the moment thing, but when they have the facts, they’ll have more self restraint.”

Fatimah was speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting on children without birth certificates in Sarawak.

Tags / Keywords: Community, East Malaysia, Family & Community, teenage, pregnancies, Welfare


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