Teenage pregnancy is a sensitive topic in Singapore, primarily because the legal age of consent for sex is 16. But it’s not just a controversial issue—it’s also an incredibly important one.
Teenage pregnancy has been rising recently in certain South East Asian countries and can be a cause for concern. It can affect many families and young women, so it’s important to learn more about it.
In this article, we’ll look at some factors contributing to the increase in teenage pregnancies and how these women can be assisted.
What Is Teenage Pregnancy
According to the World Health Organization, teenage pregnancy is when a woman is younger than 20. Pregnant teens are at greater risk for poor health outcomes and developmental problems, including low birth weight babies, premature birth, and infant mortality.
In addition, teen mothers are more likely to drop out of school, become single parents, and experience poverty throughout their lives. Teenage pregnancy is also linked to an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS.
What Causes Teenage Pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy is a complex issue that has many causes.
First, there’s the fact that teenagers are more likely to have unprotected sex than adults. This is because they’re unaware of the risks of unprotected sex.
The second reason teenage pregnancy rates are so high is that teenagers don’t have much money or access to medical care. This means they often don’t have access to birth control, which could help them avoid unplanned pregnancies.
Another reason teenage pregnancy rates are so high is that teenagers often lack the maturity needed to make good decisions about sex and reproduction. For example, many teens will have unprotected sex because they think it’s “not real sex” if they don’t ejaculate inside their partner’s vagina or anus.
Teenage pregnancy is a complex issue, but one of the biggest factors is low self-esteem. Teens who have low self-esteem or feel pressured to have sex with their boyfriends are more likely to end up pregnant.
This can happen in several ways: they don’t have anyone around them who will say no to sex, or they get caught up in the idea that having sex makes them more grown-up and mature.
Another factor is peer pressure. Teens surrounded by friends who are having sex may feel like it’s expected of them, which can make it seem like an inevitability rather than a choice—and if you’re already feeling pressure from inside yourself, that makes it even harder to resist.
Finally, some teens choose not to use birth control because they want to get pregnant—for example, so their parents will pay for their education or buy them new clothes for school!
What Are Pregnancy Symptoms
Teenage pregnancy symptoms are varied. Some teens experience no symptoms, while others may have a range of signs and symptoms.
Some of the more common teenage pregnancy symptoms include:
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The Situation of Teenage Pregnancy in Singapore
According to a Babes article, “it is increasingly uncommon to find a teenage mother or a very young married couple these days because a greater number of youngsters are savvier about using contraception”.
The article cites recent statistics that show that the number of teen pregnancies has dropped significantly over the past decade.
The number of babies born to teenagers aged 19 and younger has been falling steadily in the past decade to 224 last year (2021) – less than half the 575 in 2012.
The babies born to teenage mothers comprised 1.3 per cent of all babies born in 2012 and this dipped to 0.6 per cent last year.
In addition, more unmarried couples in their twenties choose not to have children at all, out of fear for the future and wanting to focus on their education and careers.
It’s also observed that the stigma against teen mums and young brides has decreased as well, which leads to more openness about the issue among peers who may otherwise feel judged by society.
What Is the Legal Age for Sex in Singapore
In Singapore, the legal age for sex is 16. And according to Singapore Legal Advice, if both teens are underage, the police can decide whether to file charges.
If only the impregnated teen is underage and is:
Below age 14: The teen’s partner may be found guilty of rape regardless of whether the impregnated teen had consented to have sex. If so, he will face imprisonment of up to 20 years and be liable to a fine or caning.
Between age 14-16: The teen’s partner may face imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine or both. However, punishment is more severe in exploitative relationships, i.e., the accused is in a position of authority over the victim. For example, the relationship between a student and a teacher. In such cases, the accused may face up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine or caning.
Besides imprisonment, the court may choose to sentence the accused to alternative sentencing options at its discretion. For example, in January 2021, a 17-year-old boy who got his 15-year-old girlfriend pregnant was required to serve probation and community service rather than jail time.
What Young Mums in Singapore Must Know
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Teenagers can feel very alone and may have trouble trusting adults. That’s why it’s so important that counsellors and therapists who work with them maintain confidentiality with their teen clients.
Teenagers often feel like no one understands them, but counsellors and therapists can be a place of support and understanding for teens who need it most. A counsellor or therapist should never betray their client’s trust by sharing information about them with anyone else, even if the client asks them to do so.
There are several organisations in Singapore that counsel teenagers to help them decide on their options in case of pregnancy.
If both teen parents refuse their parental responsibility, they can put the child up for adoption. There are qualifications they need to meet like:
- The child must be a resident of Singapore.
- The teen has been fully informed about the consequences of refusing parental responsibility and chooses to do so anyway.
If you will go the adoption route, here are the two ways to go about it:
- Contact the Family Service Centre, which will help place your child under state care until he or she has been adopted; or
- Contact accredited adoption agencies such as Touch Community Services for further information.
If you’re a teenager and want an abortion, then you have that right.
In Singapore, the law says that parental consent is not compulsory. You can have an abortion without your parent’s knowledge. However, if you do need to tell them, they will be able to give you support and advice.
Moreover, if you’re between the ages of 14 to 16, secure counselling from the Health Promotion Board Counselling Centre. On the other hand, if you’re below 14, your parents may be informed as intercourse under the age of 14 is considered statutory rape.
- A teenager in Singapore can have an abortion if they’re:
- A citizen of Singapore;
- Residing in Singapore for at least 4 months before the abortion is carried out; or
- Dealing with special circumstances where it is essential to carry out the abortion to save your life.
If you choose to get an abortion, even though you don’t meet the above requirements, you could face jail time of up to 3 years and/or be fined up to $3,000.
How to Help Pregnant Teenagers in Singapore
These are tough times for pregnant and parenting teenagers, but there are a lot of people who want to help. As awareness about teen pregnancy increases, there is a greater chance of the community coming together to advocate for better support.
That said, it’s unlikely that one comprehensive solution can be developed to solve all the myriad issues in this area. Sometimes, the decision to help pregnant teenagers and their babies is huge. In Singapore, there are services they can reach for assistance, and these are:
Image Source: Shutterstock
Updates from Pheona Ilagan
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.