Teach them to protect themselves


  • Letters
  • Monday, 13 May 2019

I AM responding to the article “100,000 teenage pregnancies reported since 2011, says Hannah Yeoh” published on May 10 (The Star; online at bit.ly/star_pregnant).

In 2017, a national survey showed that 7.3% of 13- to 17-year-old students had already had sex. The majority do not use contraceptives and 35% of those who had sex started before the age of 14 while 21% had multiple partners.

Although the number of teenage births have come down from an all- time high of 18,000 in 2012 to 7,700 in 2018, the rising incidence of unprotected sexual activity may mean a rising incidence of teenage abortions or miscarriages.

Most teenage pregnancies are unintended. They don’t discriminate, affecting all races; they strike in the most socially conservative families as well as the free and easy type. They occur deep in the rural interiors as well as in skyscraper-filled Kuala Lumpur.

The solution is simple: Acknowledge that teenage sexual activities are a natural biological occurrence, empower our young with the critical knowledge of how to protect themselves, and allow those who are already sexually active access to contraceptives.

Yet for decades, we have not had the conviction or the political will to do what is so obviously needed. Let’s move now, and end all teenage pregnancies.

DR JOHN TEO

Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist


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