Several baby-dumping cases have caught the nation’s attention in recent days, raising questions if there have been sufficient efforts to address the issue of unwanted teen pregnancies.
The most recent case was reported in Ampang where a baby was found abandoned in a box on Sunday. A day earlier a newborn was believed to have been thrown out from the top-floor window of a double-storey house in Ipoh by his 16-year-old mother. The baby is in critical condition and is being treated at Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital.
Perak Women Development, Family and Social Welfare Committee chairman Datuk Dr Wan Norashikin Wan Noordin was quoted today as saying having more baby hatches would only encourage the incidence of babies born out of wedlock.
Federation of Reproductive Health Association of Malaysia member Dr John Teo Beng Ho said common features of teenagers with unplanned pregnancies were:
- School dropouts or those who don’t do well in school.
- Lack parental supervision.
- College students who are staying away from their homes.
- No basic knowledge of biology or contraceptives and where to get them.
- Ill-informed as they get unreliable information from friends or the Internet.
Dr Teo, who is a senior consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, has outlined several possible solutions to address the matter. Here are the five solutions:
Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE)
This education programme includes imparting information on pregnancy prevention methods. CSE is a curriculum that starts early all the way to adolescence and youths.
It encompasses many aspects, including sexual biology, mental health, gender equality and human rights. Most importantly, CSE delays sexual debut, decreases risky behaviour and unintended pregnancies. Behind every baby-dumping case is an unintended pregnancy.
Engagement with parents, schools, teachers and members of the community in imparting CSE.
The best place to start CSE is at home. Parents must be educated about CSE.
This leads to better-educated youths, fewer unintended pregnancies and increased economic potential.
Destigmatisation of unwed mothers
Enable access to contraceptives
For adolescents who are already sexually active, amendments to legal barriers need to be instituted to enable access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as contraceptives.
Where it is legally permissible, safe abortion needs to be considered if no other viable options are available.