Biology has told us that a child is a human being below the age of puberty. Society has told us that a child is a person younger than the age of the majority. The community has grown to know that a child is vulnerable and therefore needs to be protected, guided, counseled, provided for and defended. We are to believe that a child is today`s seed for the future, but children are having babies before they can even smell their futures.
Teenage pregnancy has been defined by UNICEF as “a teenage girl, usually within the ages of 13-19 years becoming pregnant.” It is very disheartening that Uganda has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the sub- Saharan Africa having over 25% pregnancies among teenagers being registered annually. However, the question for us all is “Whose fault is it that children are having babies?” Not forgetting that Uganda`s constitution defines a child as any person below the age of eighteen years. Who should we blame for the children who are getting married before they can afford to buy their own clothes or food? Who is to be blamed for the fact that the future is being mishandled by its custodians?
We are to be blamed for every teenage pregnancy in this country because we are its custodians and should anything go wrong, we must be accountable. We are to be blamed because we are the mothers, the fathers, the teachers, the brothers and sisters, the friends, the counselors and guardians and still in our midst are the predators, the exploiters, the opportunists and the abusers. We are to be blamed because we are the eyes of the society and the voice of the voiceless though many times we keep silent. It is our responsibility to educate children on their value and worth. We have to teach children how to dream boundless dreams. It is our burden to defend children from those who prey on them. It is our charge to make sure that when they fall, they rise strong. When we fail as a society to carry out our duties, then we are responsible for all the mishaps in our midst.
The good news is that it is never too late to make a difference. We should discourage early marriages and empower children to stand up for themselves. We should give justice to the victims of abuse and let children know that they are children and should leave the matters of adults to adults, including childbearing. Where a child has had a baby, be kind enough to accept her and teach her to take responsibility for her life, beginning with the decisions she makes. “Successful people have a social responsibility to make the world a better place and not just take from it.” Let`s make our world, better.