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In an unplanned pregnancy, teenage girls need an ecosystem of care and support

Submitted to ST Forum, but unpublished.

15 December, 2023

The Straits Times article Teen Abortion: Guilt, grief and shame can linger for decades presented a sobering reality as I read it, having seen cases of unplanned pregnancy grappling with complex psychological and emotional experiences as a counsellor. 

Put yourself in the girl’s shoes. In the face of unexpected shock, imagine feeling lost and fearful. Imagine the agony and sense of helplessness you would feel.  

As with the lady interviewed in the article, one can often feel pressured to abort the unborn child in the face of uncertainties. 

As a community, as parents and as helping professionals, no matter how upsetting  the news may seem to us, we have to remember we are the caring adults in an eco-system of help who can empower this teenager to make life-giving choices. For some, we may be her only lifeline.  

And we need to be the source of social and emotional support to them, listening to their concerns and encouraging them to voice out their deepest anxieties and fears in a safe psychological space. 

Apart from positioning ourselves as our children’s strong pillar of support, we should also look at preventive and upstream measures. One such strategy is to develop sexual intelligence in our young. 

Studies have shown that involved parental relationships can protect the youth from high-risk sexual behaviour and abusive dating relationships by helping them develop a strong sense of self-worth. 

Apart from such protective attachment bonds, it is also important that parents engage in regular conversations about values, sex and relationships with their children, or what we refer to as parent-led & child-centric sexuality education. 

Many parents may shy away from this, but what we have found at Focus on the Family, is that once the initial barrier is overcome, the talks become increasingly easier and more natural.  

Such conversations allow the parent to be the first source of influence in a child’s life, and encourages help-seeking when the youth find themselves in difficult life situations. 

We also have a Talk About Sex video series targeted at helping to break the ice around such conversations. Parents can get hold of these videos at 

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