The problem of Sexual exploits among Teenage Girls has become a serious phenomenon especially among school going children. The question is what we need to do as a nation and as a Government to implement or generate concrete solutions that would redeem our girl child population from becoming social and economic burdens on their families, communities and the nation at large.
The organization, Save the Children and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation National School Health and Adolescent Programme in collaboration with the National Secretariat for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy have stepped up a National Campaign on No Sex for Grades in Schools and higher learning institutions but the role of Teachers, Lectures and Parents remain debatable. Unfortunately as we become more and more civilized, more and more people gain expanded and unscrupulous freedom to live the way they like and this is not helping our fight against teenage sex, and this may explain why hundreds of our school girls get pregnant and drop out of school.
The Ernest Bai Koroma government incognizance of the serious consequences brought together all relevant stakeholders to join the fight against teenage pregnancy-the Health and Sanitation, Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs and Education Science and Technology Ministries and Civil Society groups to help tackle the growing problem.
The consequences for the poor teenage girls are disastrous and devastating, and except for few who may be lucky to escape, recover, and catch up, the majority of young girls are subjected to very far reacting consequences. To set the motion, massive awareness raising machinery on causes of teenage sex in schools and institutions of learning on SEX FOR GRADE is not only for people in my small town of Mateboi in the Bombali district, northern Sierra Leone, but for the collective efforts of School Administrators, the Judiciary, parents and civil society groups.
My take in the sex transaction between the young teenage girl in school and the teacher who is supposed to provide academic and moral guidance for the young in-experienced girl, is that when a male teacher who has his moral standards disrupted, and has high sex drive decides to take advantage of his very powerful position and influence over a girl who is academically weak or lazy at her school work, and yet wants to pass all her subjects in the exams, this presents a very dangerous situation for the poor girl, her parents, the school, the community and the entire Sierra Leone population. The most immediate and visible consequences for the teenage girls is pregnancy while in most cases the teacher goes scot free, the girl is left to bear the consequences. The after effect is that the girl’s education is disrupted. There are a few who recover, and catch up socially and academically and go on to achieve to their fullest potentials.
It is reported that one third of teenage pregnancies end up in abortions especially unsafe abortions which could have further impact on the health of the adolescent girl as she often lead to complications such as bleeding, sepsis, infertility and some times death.
Having sex for grades has current and future impact on the education and job opportunities for those who get engaged into it. Some girls may get lucky or smart and never get pregnant. They may continue and become very good at it until they finish primary school, secondary school and perfect it in the university. For those their ability to cope with work after finishing college could be very challenging.
A look at the phenomenon
The consequences of women who enter the workforce with big qualifications but cannot perform even the smallest of tasks ended giving their institutions names that are not credible. Therefore from which angle we look at teenage sex for grades in schools has serious consequences both for the present and the future of the girl child. There are also serious consequences for her family, the community, and the country at large.
The Teacher and the law
Turning the pendulum round, one would attempt to asks, “But what is at stake for the teacher who knowingly interferes with a young girl that he is supposed to protect and nurture to reach her fullest God-given potential. According to the New Law Titled: Sexual Offences Act 2012, no person below the age 18 years can give consent to sexual intercourse; and consent will not be accepted in a Court of Law as defense in cases of alleged offences against under age persons. Therefore teachers and lecturers in the habit of exchanging passing grades for sex from young girls should desist henceforth. As for me, the penalty of Le.10 million or one year jail term on conviction as prescribed in the New Act is just not too enough. I suggest Le.50 million or five years jail. And after serving the jail term or fine paid, the teacher in question be banned from teaching for professional misconduct.