The Star (Kenya)

Meru activists raise alarm over rising cases of teen pregnancie­s

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KNA/ Meru activists have raised the alarm over increasing cases of teen pregnancie­s.

Last year’s closure of schools for nine months has been blamed for the sharp rise.

Ripples Internatio­nal executive director Mercy Chidi says family members and the girls’ friends are responsibl­e for more than 70 per cent of the cases.

The organisati­on focuses of children’s rights.

Chidi said teenage pregnancie­s are a constant reminder of the persistent sexual abuse in the community.

“This is a ticking bomb, we need to address it before it gets out of control,” she said.

She said concerted efforts are required for an entrenched communal responsibi­lity in protecting child rights.

“Many teen mothers have given birth recently and there is a need to offer both emotional and financial support,” Chidi said.

She asked the government to allocate more resources to address the menace. “Barely a day passes without one hearing of a case of abuse of children rights.”

Chidi said the law should be reviewed with tougher penalties for offenders. She also called on the

government and community-based organisati­ons to raise awareness on reproducti­ve health.

Parents and guardians should also be more vigilant to ensure their children’s rights are not abused. “Let every parent take full responsibi­lity for their children’s whereabout­s, especially when they are at home for the holidays,” Chidi said.

Igembe South Children Officer John Mwangi said the trend has been persistent with teen mothers accounting for half of hospital deliveries.

Mwangi cited parental neglect and peer influence as the main contributo­rs to the rising cases of teen pregnancie­s. He said they will ensure perpetrato­rs of child abuse are prosecuted.

Data from the county’s health department shows 14,573 girls aged between 10 and 19 were impregnate­d in Meru in 2020.

 ?? /ANDREW KASUKU ?? Schoolgirl­s
/ANDREW KASUKU Schoolgirl­s

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