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Getting to the Root of the Causes of Teenage Pregnancy in Jamaica


Before 20 years of age, at least 20% of Jamaican women have been pregnant at least once. The economic, political, and socio-cultural environments in Jamaica seem to influence the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy and are found at the heart of the causes of teenage pregnancy in Jamaica.

Jamaica has unfortunately experienced alternatively a period of marginal economic growth and negative growth in recent times. What funds the country has are funneled into dealing with the enormous budget deficit and are subtracted from important social programs such as assistance to young girls to teach them about sexuality and contraception. There is a terrifying lack of easily available contraceptives and youth friendly services are extremely rare.

Many experts believe that one of the major causes of teenage pregnancy in Jamaica is ignorance regarding proper sexual behavior and consequences. Indeed, 48% of males aged 15-19 do not always use a condom with their regular partner, and 41% do not use a condom with their non-regular partners. The reason why boys do not always use condoms is that they don’t like them. When examining females, 60% do not always use a condom with their regular partner and 46% do not always use a condom with their non-regular partner. Females claim that they don’t use condoms with partners that they know well. A large number of teenage boys are not aware of the correct use of a male condom, while the majority of young girls are not aware of the existence of a female condom.

Social traditions also contribute to the causes of teenage pregnancy in Jamaica. Jamaican women see motherhood as an assertion of status and identity and a way to eliminate any suspicion of infertility. A young girl, however, receives mixed messages about pregnancy, as the strong Christian background present in Jamaica means that there are taboos against sexual behavior in girls. These Christian beliefs have caused Jamaican society to adopt an “abstinence only” approach to teenage sexuality and any further communication with adolescents regarding puberty, the maturation process, sexual intercourse, and contraception, is non-existent. Because of this taboo, yet another of the causes of teenage pregnancy in Jamaica, adolescent boys and girls are even hesitant to buy condoms on their own in their own communities. Young girls, then, engage in sexual activities often without protection and without being fully aware of the consequences.

As in other developing nations, there are a number of myths that surround pregnancy and sexual activities, and these are further causes of teenage pregnancy in Jamaica; girls turn to these myths instead of medical facts. Studies show that a large number of girls in Jamaica believe that douching with Pepsi after sex or having intercourse in the sea will prevent pregnancy. The persistence of these myths in Jamaican society is yet another expression of the ignorance in which many young girls find themselves when dealing with their sexuality.

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