Unplanned pregnancies are contributing to social problems in Saint Lucia, the Programme Manager at the Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, Geralda Bray, has said.
Bray believes that most pregnancies in Saint Lucia are not planned.
But she expressed the view that if a couple who are mature have a loving relationship, have family support on both sides and are employed, even if an unplanned pregnancy happens, they can handle such a situation.
However the Family Planning official asserted that without such circumstances, an unplanned birth creates additional pressure and has a negative impact.
She said there are a number of mitigating factors which impact children as a direct result of unplanned pregnancies, especially among young people.
Bray asserted that many times young people are not emotionally mature to handle the responsibility of being a parent.
She noted that as a result, a large part of the parenting is left to the woman and a burden is put on the grandparents in helping to raise the child.
“In addition there could be conflicts that would allow the child to fall through the cracks, because the mother – her role as the one with the chief responsibility of making decisions, would be taken up by the grandparents,” Bray told the Times.
She said a tug of war ensues between the mother and the grandparents in terms of what is right for the child and what is acceptable.
Bray explained that as a result, the child gets mixed messages leading to confusion.
“A lot of times you find children in that situation do not have that discipline and the environment where they can learn what is right from what is wrong because of all the confusion,” the Family Planning official said.
“Planning your family means that you have thought about what it means to be a parent – you have decided that you want to play that role, you are are ready, mature enough, have the finances, the family support and the structure.”
According to Bray, the decision to have a child is a very ‘consequential’ one.
“Once the child arrives there is no saying whether the child will have a disability – there are so many variables, particularly if you find people who are living in poverty or below the poverty level, that alone will place the child at a disadvantage,” she told the Times.
However Bray made it clear that being poor does not necessarily mean that children will succumb, but she explained that is is a factor that could create risk.