Unplanned teen pregnancies of greater concern

I echo Mrs Elisa Choo's view ("Unwed mums - tackle issue at its roots"; Forum Online, last Wednesday) that while reviewing the benefits for single mothers is a good initiative by the Government, we, as a society, also need to tackle the issue at its roots.

Nonetheless, we also need to realise that the society we live in has also changed.

There are now independent and financially capable women who deliberately choose to bear a child but not marry its father.

This group of women should not be chastised for the decisions they have made, and they should be regarded by the state, first and foremost, as mothers.

I disagree with Mrs Choo's call for women who have a choice to get pregnant only within the context of marriage.

However, what we, as a society, should really be concerned about are the cases of unplanned teen pregnancies.

We should strive to lower the number of such pregnancies, as these youngsters often do not have the financial ability or maturity to raise children.

More often than not, teenage mothers who carry their child to term often become single mothers as well, and find themselves in dire straits trying to raise their child.

One of the most important things we should do is revamp the sexuality education courses conducted in our schools.

Research on sexual education programmes conducted in the United States has shown that abstinence-only sex education does not lower the rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease (STD) infection rates.

Some studies have even linked it to an increase in teenage pregnancies and STD infections.

In contrast, sexual education programmes that adopt a more comprehensive syllabus, and include the teaching of abstinence as well as contraceptive use, have proven far more effective in lowering rates of teenage pregnancies and STD infections.

Han Ming Guang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Unplanned teen pregnancies of greater concern'. Print Edition | Subscribe