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Teen pregnancies have complex contexts

During the recent KCPE and KCSE exams, there were many media reports about pregnant candidates. Most of the stories were simplistic, talking about what appeared to be a national crisis without detailed analysis that could give audiences a better understanding of the issue.

With every new headline about candidates giving birth, public anxiety grew. Teenage pregnancy was quickly mutating into an epidemic.

For example, the Standard declared teenage pregnancy a national nightmare. But this framing of the story never looked at the complex contexts of the issue.

The Nation on December 3, on the other hand, carried a well-researched report with different voices on teen pregnancies. The story was factual, incisive and considered multiple perspectives.

Two girls ‘Halima’ and ‘Maria’ aged 15 and 14 years brought out the disturbing realities of underage pregnancy. They were raped.

The girls received support from their families and teachers.

“We used to give her lunch, porridge and hired a maid to ensure she breastfed her baby exclusively whenever she took breaks from her papers. We decided to bring the baby to school because she could not leave the child with her ageing grandmother,” Halima’s head teacher said.

Maria’s story was similar to Halima’s. “The defiler was wearing a mask to hide his identity; he had a knife and threatened to kill my daughter. What would a 14-year-old girl do”? her father said.

The Nation story had facts and figures of teenage pregnancy and helped the readers understand the current state of this problem.

Great stories of pain elicit empathy and not condemnation. Such coverage promotes better understanding.

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