The Government minister who holds responsibility for the protection of the island’s children is disturbed about the worrying trend of schoolgirls being impregnated by “hard back men”.
The situation has angered Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde and she has called on parents
to stop encouraging their under-aged
pregnant daughters, not to tell child care authorities who was responsible for their pregnancy.
The minister spoke out briefly about the issue this morning, as she delivered remarks at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre for the launch of the FMH Sandy Lane Charitable Trust Help Line, held.
“I am one of the most disturbed mothers, grandmothers, aunties of Barbados because of our young girls are being impregnated, not by school boys alone, because I can understand that, but by hard-back men. I believe this is an integral part of what we have to work towards stamping out, and bring the perpetrators to justice. It is wrong.
“Last week I saw about 20 of them. Granted that this year they are a little older than most years. Nobody wants a 14-year-old girl with two babies. I saw two of them last year, in the same environment, on the second baby at 14 years old.
“Where are the men? And they are not school boys. . . Most of those girls are those who are most impoverished and they are the ones that need the help to raise the babies,” Forde said.
Following the launch, Forde told Barbados TODAY that this troubling situation cannot be allowed to continue, and indicated that while the Child Care Board, which falls under her ministry, can only do its best to investigate such cases, there was legislation to deal with it.
However, the St Thomas Member of Parliament lamented that some parents, particularly mothers, often used their influence on their daughters to convince them not to speak to authorities regarding the men involved.
“I want the men locked up,” Forde said.
“But I understand that some of the mothers in particular are the ones who are telling the children that ‘I am not going to allow you to reveal who the man is because you are not going to be able to get maintenance for the child’.
“I understand that some of them, not all, are the ones who are hiding that
information from the police and the Child Care Board, but it has to stop. The Welfare Department will help and the Child Care Board makes sure that provisions are made available for them in terms of day care, so that the girls can go back to school,” she said.
Forde noted that she has been meeting some of these young mothers for around 21 years, and it bothered her every time she met with them, especially when they speak to her about the struggles they face in life and the goals they have set for themselves.
“It has to stop. Parents need to be more supportive and more responsible for supervising children. I see them every year I do the programme. They are great children.
“And they are from all the secondary schools, not just the comprehensive, or what we call the newer secondary schools. It is across the board. It says that parents now have to protect children, teachers have to give them a listening ear, and there are others in the society who have to play their role too,” she said.
The minister said she hoped that the Help Line, which is a 24-hour service, at the disposal of children up to 18 years, would be one of the solutions to addressing the worrying trend of teenaged pregnancy in Barbados.