What you need to know:
- Mentorship of boys and young men is important: A programme like brother to brother will go a long way in equipping boys and young men with the necessary knowledge and skills needed in living responsible and enriching lives.
According to the ministry of health data, 62 percent of unintended pregnancies are among adolescents. Factors such as peer pressure, poverty, weak families, cultural beliefs, unsafe spaces, poor decision making and the Covid-19 pandemic are among the driving forces behind teenage pregnancies.
Many times, the males are an overlooked piece in the teenage pregnancy puzzle as the blame is mainly on the girls and thus, the prevention message leaves the boys rather unbothered and yet it takes two to tango.
To achieve concrete progress in the teenage pregnancy campaign, boys and all men must be at the centre of it.
There is a need to adopt widespread community based initiatives led by responsible men to help adolescent boys negotiate the difficult passage to responsible manhood.
Boys and men should be held accountable for their sexual behaviour because male responsibility includes talking about contraception before sex and the consequences thereof. It’s well known that male partners strongly influence the decisions girls make about sex and contraception, especially when they are older than the girls.
Prevention programmes that provide mentoring and youth development activities can help young men by offering life lessons,skills, development opportunities and hope, all of which build self-respect. And building young men’s self respect helps them to regard their partners.
Male involvement initiatives in teenage pregnancy prevention can be done through several ways:
Programs exclusively for teen boys and young men, male-focused additions to programs that primarily serve teen girls, media campaigns encouraging responsible male behaviour and measures that promote responsible fatherhood. Nevertheless, there are important guiding principles that should be put into consideration for the programs to be effective;
Working closely with the community is paramount as it has important benefits for all concerned. Through working with the community, consulting with parents is easy. Which paves a way for collaboration and effective outreach to teens and young men.
Collaborations and partnerships especially with local leaders, schools, churches, health centres, service agencies, youth development programs, and other community institutions.
For initiatives not affiliated with health programs, for example, it is critical to be able to refer males to reproductive health services. Collaboration is made easier when programmes go to groups and experts in the community who have the ability to command the respect and attention of young men.
However, many pregnancy prevention programs conducted in such places may not reach the late teens and adult partners of teen girls. Nor do they reach those who may have dropped out of schools hence, needing a wider outreach of these programs so that all boys, young men and all men are involved.
Teenage pregnancy campaigns should target all males. For instance,male juveniles shouldn’t be left out.
Media campaigns that encourage teen boys to abstain from sex or use condoms if they are sexually active should have nationwide coverage. And enforcing statutory rape laws against adult men involved with much younger minor girls as a way to reduce teen pregnancy is key.
Through males’ participation in teenage pregnancy prevention, boys and men will be more conscious of their sexual behaviour. And the results will be, enhanced girl-child education, responsible fatherhood, which will inadvertently strengthen the family unit.
Mentorship of boys and young men is important: A programme like brother to brother will go a long way in equipping boys and young men with the necessary knowledge and skills needed in living responsible and enriching lives.
Ms Katherine Nabuzale is a writer and social analyst.