Investigating the psycho-social consequences of teenage pregnancy: an exploratory study
Simelane, Excellent Bha
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The aim of this study was to investigate the psycho-social consequences of teenage pregnancy of secondary school teenagers in the Amajuba district, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The study sought to establish whether teenage pregnancy has an impact on the psychological and social wellbeing of pregnant teenagers and teen mothers. Eleven teenagers from the Amajuba district were sampled for the study. Data were collected using semi-structured focus-group and individual interviews to allow a platform to ask open response questions, to probe and explore the participants’ perspectives on the consequences of teenage pregnancy. The data were analysed thematically by carefully identifying and expanding significant themes that emerged from the participants’ perceptions surrounding the consequences of teenage pregnancy. The findings reveal that teenage pregnancy has detrimental effects on the psychological and social wellbeing of teenagers. These include psychological challenges such as low self-esteem, poor self-image, depression, and emotional problems; social challenges such as poverty, bad friendships and poor family relationships; and academic challenges. The negative effects of teenage pregnancy are not limited to these and can also include school challenges such as quitting school early and health- or risk-related challenges, among other effects. Recommendations include that schools must have supporting programmes to prevent teenage pregnancy and to support those teenagers who are pregnant. In addition, provision of support must continue after birth. Schools cannot win this fight alone but need to rope in health professionals, parents and other stakeholders who may come up with preventative and protective measures to educate teenagers to postpone engaging in sexual relationships.