Teenage pregnancy rates remain on the increase in Makurdi metropolis of Benue State, Nigeria. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the attitudes and perceptions of teenagers in Makurdi metropolis regarding teenage pregnancy. A total of two hundred and eighty six adolescents (286) participated in this survey which included 119 (40.8%) males and 164 (56.2%) females. Also 199 (68.2%) of the adolescents are In-school while 87 (29.8%) are Out of school. A self developed questionnaire was used to collect data. Four hypotheses were generated and tested using independent t-test, and the findings indicated that there was significant difference between male and female adolescents on attitude towards teenage pregnancy (t (281) = 1.90, P<0.05) and their perception of teenage pregnancy (t (275) = -1.99, P<0.05). Also it was found that there is no difference between In School and Out of School adolescent attitudes towards teenage pregnancy (t (284) = 0.024, P>0.05). Equally, male and female adolescents share similar perceptions of the causes of teenage pregnancy. Based on the findings, it was recommended that multi faceted and multi-sectoral approaches be used in tackling the issues of teenage pregnancy in Nigeria. It was also suggested that sexuality education should not only be included in the school curriculum but be made functional both at primary and secondary school level.
Keywords: Attitude, Perception, Adolescents, Teenage Pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy is a socio economic challenge and an important public health problem for communities in Africa and Nigeria in particular. It is a worldwide problem that accompanies the initiation of sexual activity at increasingly young ages by adolescents. Accurate statistics may not be available in developing countries like Nigeria due to the fact that such pregnancies are not celebrated especially if they are out of wedlock. However it is common to see many teenage girls pregnant out of wedlock and some forced into marriage at that tender age with or without their consent.
According to Kaplowitz (2006), teenage pregnancy is defined as a pregnancy in a young woman who has not reached her 20th birthday when the pregnancy ends, regardless of whether she is married or is legally an adult (age 14-21, depending on the countiy). Mayor (2004) confirms that worldwide rate of teenage pregnancy range from 43 per 1000 in Sub Saharan African countries to 2.9 per 1000 in South Korea. The demographic and health survey (DHS) of some nations revealed that the population of women between the ages 20-24 who had given birth prior to their 20th birthday was 55% in Botswana, 52% in Kenya, 70% in Mali and 54% in Nigeria (UNICEF, 2001). A World Health Organization (WHO) study (1999), which profiled teenage users of reproductive health services in Nigeria, showed that half of all teenagers attending health facilities were sexually experienced with their sexual debut at an average of 15 years end one-third of all women requiring delivery services were teenagers. Also, recently in a research sponsored by REACH- Research Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS, it was found that average age of sexual debut for male in Nigeria has dropped to 15years and for the female, it is 10 years. According to Bell (2002), these economically developed English speaking countries have the highest rate of teenage births. A survey by Medical Research Council reported that children as young as 14 years are engaged in sexual activity (41%), seventy percent of these have had more than one sexual partner and only 29% of teenagers are practicing safe sex (Ferguson, 2004)
The incidence of premarital sexuality and pregnancy is on the increase in Nigeria. Studies revealed that about half of all unmarried adolescents in Nigeria have been pregnant (Makinwa, 1992). Most of the pregnancies are unwanted and injurious to the female victims. Sometimes even when the pregnancy is wanted, as in the case of child marriage, pregnancy in a teenage is not without complications and implications for the health of the mother and baby, as well as some social, educational, psychological and physiological implications. …