Don’t shun pregnant teens – Martin Berry

DIRECTOR of field operations at the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation Beverley Martin Berry is urging families and communities to desist from shunning teenage girls who end up pregnant.

In making an impassioned plea, Martin Berry explained that banishing and shunning only puts teen mothers at risk for other things such as gender-based violence, illiteracy, and promulgating the cycle of poverty.

“When they are supported they are no longer at risk. They are in a better mental health frame of mind; the child is taken care of. We have to remind those persons who take that position – to bash – on such a matter, that there is a bigger picture,” Martin Berry said. “We speak from a macro level of crime and violence, how will this contribute. A girl who has no support is at risk to be taken advantage of by someone else, she might simply want some food, decides to work and she is exploited, she is trafficked, she is exposed to all levels of abuse. Whereas, if she was protected that would be non-existent. She would not grow up with resentment, turn it on the child and then the child is affected. It works out better for you the individual, the family overall and the community and for the country if the girl is supported than abandoned at this point in time.”

Her comments come as the nation prepares to celebrate Child Month under the theme I. S.O.A.R (Strive to Overcome Adversities with Resilience).

Furthermore, Martin Berry said support systems are available for girls, their families and that as a nation individuals have to move past stigma and discrimination of teen mothers in order to empower girls.

“You might not know where to go but if you ask the question of a professional in the community, they will point you to the WCJF. Instead of saying there is no help, seek the help, put away the pride and get the help. We have to rise above the stigma and discrimination, so that we can empower our young people,” she said.

Further, Martin Berry encouraged communities to support their youth population and bring them to positive engagements and opportunities early.

“Don’t wait until they become teen parents. From early on, treat them with love and let love lead us,” Martin Berry said.

– Kimberley Hibbert

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