The issue of teenage pregnancy is one that has loomed over our country for years now. While it was an occurrence that was frowned upon many years ago, it is now one that has been accepted as somewhat of a norm. In the cases of pregnancies of minors, there are very few cases where the father of the baby or the parents of the teenager involved are held accountable. These matters were discussed today on The Morning Show with guests as Joan Burke-Skeen of the Belize Family Life Association as well as Myrna Manzanares who spoke of the role and failure of the country’s authorities ranging from inside the home to elected officials.
JOAN BURKE SKEEN
“We had a tradition on how we were socialized that anything goes for a boy. The problem is that they were not held responsible, indeed we are the ones who get pregnant but the society doesn’t hold boys and men responsible for those children that they help to conceive and that is why today we are all whenever there is a man being shot down in the streets that is as a result. Everything is being place, when it comes to responsibility everything is placed on the woman, we are even being held responsible for actions on men and boys and that is why we are faced with the situation we are faced with now. When we talk about authorities there are different levels of authorities that must be held accountable or responsible for the lives of young people. The home is an authority, the church is an authority and so is those who we go to the poll and select and run the daily affairs of a country and if you ask me we have all failed at some level because we have to bear in mind that those who are now managing homes they came from homes that were not properly managed from the get go. Those who we have at the pulpit some of them they come from homes with the same challenges and not to mention those who are in Belmopan or those who are expected to make the policies that will address these issues and yes it is complicated, it is very complicated because human beings we are complicated but there are times when policies, legislation and all that create more complications to address some of these issues and that is why we are faced with what we are faced with now. You asked a question whether or not the authorities are moving at the same pace to address these issues. No look at social media, social media has gone wild, are we moving at that same pace? No today you sit down at a table and say that we will deal with this tomorrow something new comes out, nothing is wrong with freedom it is in the individual responsibility and how do we hold people accountable for their actions?”
AVA DIAZ SOSA
“But it appears that nobody holds anybody accountable.”
JOAN BURKE SKEEN
“Exactly and that is our problem.”
The panellists and hosts in today’s Morning Show, the issue of the publication of sex videos involving young persons was also highlighted especially since this past weekend say at least three sexual videos were posted on social media. Those videos involved young persons and included a threesome and unprotected sexual intercourse.
JOAN BURKE SKEEN
“We have become so liberal and open with sex, over this weekend I think it was three sex tapes that were released on Facebook. The thing is it’s not grown men and women its young girls and adolescents or young adults who are doing this. When we talk about responsible, sexual decisions and part of that responsible sexual decision is to recognize when you are ready to engage in sexual activities, when you are ready and responsible for the consequences of engaging in sexual activities and of course one of the responsibilities is the prevention of pregnancies. We are getting responses from particularly our young males such as “We don’t want our girls to use contraceptives because they will cheat.” “Once they are on a method they will cheat because they are afraid that if they get pregnant and give me ‘shall-i’ what will happen.”
“What age group are you talking to?”
JOAN BURKE SKEEN
“We are talking 14 right up, we are getting these kinds of responses from males who are 26 and 25 and 22 so the question is we have a truancy program, we have community policing we have all that but yet we see these little boys in the streets; where are the parents. Now when you look at it if the 15 year old has a child at age 15 when her son is 12 she is only 27. She is probably out there trying to find means to feed or to provide for that child because listen that 15 year old may have maybe two or other children that she has to fend for so you know what that 13 year old is at the mercy of the world.”
Among the other social ills involving young persons and sex are the cases of sugar daddies and cougars as Burke spoke on earlier.
JOAN BURKE SKEEN
“When we go back and we start both male and females engage them so that they can value themselves as individuals we are hearing all the horror stories about sometimes even before the child is born that child’s father is already at the cemetery and these are some of the realities and I know the government on its own cannot address it. The civil society on our own we cannot and as I asked the last time I was here let us come to the table. We are also seeing for some time we discussed the issue of sugar daddies but we are seeing an increase and that is creating a problem again for our young girls because these young boys are engaged in relationships with these older women who some are married, who some live at home with their partners and it’s creating a level of mistrust among our young boys, mistrust for the little girlfriends that they have because they are seeing that this woman has her husband and partner but they have a boy on the side so why would the girl friend not do the same thing to them. So you will find this level of control and violence that we are seeing among our young people and then this violence moves from out of the home and into the streets because sometimes because of the gang situation the only environment in which they can remain is where they have control out of or have control over the girl might try a little thing on the side with one of the boyfriend’s friends and it gets very complicated but that is what we are seeing working with young persons and how we are able to make that link among poverty, adolescent pregnancy , lack of education and violence both gender based violence and social violence.”
During the hour and a half allotted to discuss the matter, it is evident that there is a wide array of issues that are not being directly addressed by the authorities and some that parents are turning a blind eye to. We have heard about minors engaging in sexual intercourse, we have heard about the posts on social media of young persons having unprotected sex and we have heard of the sugar daddy and cougar syndrome. There is also the issue of minors getting married among many others. While the law does exist to penalize the males who impregnate girls under the age of sixteen prosecutions is at a low rate due to many obstacles including the refusal by parents to cooperate with the authorities.