BY SIMONE SMITH
Happy New Year Toronto Caribbean Newspaper readers! I am blessed to still be a part of the Toronto Newspaper family, and I am glad that you are still a part of the family. As a family and a community, we need to be proactive in our decision making; this means thinking before we act and making the decisions that are needed to move us forward positively. Many of us are parents, and we realize the importance of providing guidance for our future generation. In this day and age, technology seems to be raising our children; the unfortunate thing about this is that many parents have no idea what their children are learning. It is scary because discussions that need to be happening in the homes are either happening online or with inexperienced peers. One of these discussions revolves around the issue of sex. I wanted to address what is happening here in Toronto and how we as a community can step in to correct this issue.
In our recent times, sex continues to be the number one way that love is communicated. From a young age, we are inundated with images of sex; this has manifested into many adolescents deciding to enter into sexual relationships, without really thinking about the many consequences that are attached. Sexually transmitted diseases have been on the rise since the 1960’s, and consequently, so has the amount of young women who are getting pregnant. Imagine if you can, the amount of stress a young woman would feel if she found out that she was pregnant. Not only is she dealing with hormonal changes in her body, she is now having to worry about bringing a child into the world, when she herself is a child. Many institutions are very critical of teenage mothers; they are often judged and treated with disdain. Many young mothers are reluctant to tell their parents because they know that their parents will be disappointed. Even after telling their parents, they tend to live with this shame; this is unfortunate because regardless of the situation, being a mother is a very rewarding experience.
In 2008, Canada’s rate of teen pregnancy was at 30.5%, while in the U.S., it was at 58.0% (Demara, 2013). Canada’s teen pregnancy rate is lower than the U.S. rate due to a range of factors; one important factor is that we have universal health care, which provides access to contraception and sex education. Our teenagers have greater access to resources in their community, and there is a lower rate of poverty found amongst young people here in Canada (Demara, 2013). Even though an increase in teen pregnancy has been found in parts of Canada, what it comes down to is that many of our teens feel optimistic about their educational and career opportunities. This optimistic trend has led to an overall levelling off of younger women becoming pregnant. As positive as that sounds, there are still those teenagers who have become pregnant and feel the stress and judgment that come along with it. Many do not look for help because they feel judged; if they do look for help, it is in the best interest of the community that they are assisted in the life choice that they have made.
As a community, we have to begin working together to connect with our youth; this does not mean lecturing them or telling them what to do, it means remaining open with them and communicating with them. Nothing is more important to a person than feeling understood; once a person feels understood, they are open to listening. What we all need is some understanding; this year let us start understanding each other more. Until next time, have a great week.