Mr Martin Anyoka, the Field Officer in charge of Bongo, Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has encouraged parents to build and strengthen cordial relationship with their adolescent children.
This, he said, would enable the parents to properly monitor the growth and development of their children and provide them with the necessary Sexual and reproductive health education to prevent them from indulging in risky sexual behaviour.
It would also enable the adolescents especially girls to be assertive to stand for their rights against abuses and exploitation and prevent them from getting pregnant and Sexually Transmitted Diseases such as HIV.
Mr Anyoka was speaking to parents and children at Kodorogo in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region at a Parent-Child Intergenerational dialogue under the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) adolescent girls’ empowerment project.
The project seeks to promote healthy relationship between parents and children to have conversation on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) to enable the children make informed decisions regarding their sexual life.
Mr Anyoka indicated that teenage pregnancy was still a menace that needed stakeholder approach and parents had critical roles to play in providing the information on SRHR to their children and creating the enabling environment where their children would feel loved and free to express their feelings.
“If you do not teach them what menstruation and changes in their bodies mean, they will go out to their friends and that is where they will give them wrong information and they will end up getting pregnant and contracting diseases.
“Parents need to encourage their children and not to chastise them, that way they will become your friends and they can tell you anything because it has been observed that some of the actions of some parents push their children away from them,” he said.
Ms Lucy Sofo, a Community Health Nurse, Kodorogo Community-based Health Planning Services (CHPS) compound, noted that parents’ inability to provide the basic needs of their children such as sanitary pads, food and shelter were some of the factors pushing the girls to engage in transactional sex.
She said teenage pregnancy was still prevalent in the area and urged stakeholders including parents and traditional authorities to join the fight to curb the situation.
Naba Adendaa Awamyelum III, the Chief of Kodorogo Community, noted that efforts had been made in the past to rescue some girls in the community from early marriage and blamed the parents for the behaviour of the children.
He said some parents pushed their girl children who were pregnant into marriage instead of supporting them to deliver and return to school or learn a trade and appealed to parents to instill discipline and educate their children to prevent them from being exploited.