A report published this week by the Center for Teenage Mothers, an adjunct organization of the NGO Youth Enhancement Center (YES), states that the number of teenage pregnancies in Belize jumped by 16.1 percent during the five years from 2001 to 2005, from 1,303 in 2001 to 1,513 five years later.
No stats have been provided for the period 2005 to 2010, but if the growth rate of teenage pregnancies remained constant, we can say with some degree of certainty that in the decade that just ended, teenage pregnancies in Belize grew by 3.2 percent a year.
This translates to 15,553 teenage pregnancies for the 10-year period 2001 to 2010, and that’s not counting abortions.
The Government’s website lists the population of Belize today at approximately 320,000, and a graph showing population trends indicates that the growth rate has been sliding to a steady decline from 2.75 percent a year in 2001 to 2.06 percent a year in 2010. So while the rate of growth of the general population is declining, teenage pregnancies are rising.
Dig a little deeper and we find that there were some 7,860 live births in 2010. Of these 7,860 live births, about 1,784 or 22.69 percent were from teenage pregnancies.
When one considers that teenage pregnancies are invariably associated with unwed mothers, we begin to see the magnitude of the social problem this statistic uncovers – children having children and at a pace well above the national average, which is 2.06 percent.
Certainly this is a worrisome statistic, and we are grateful to NGO Youth Enhancement Services and the Center for Teenage Mothers for bringing it to our attention. It the first reliable confirmation we have of the misdirected effect the sub-adult population is having on the Belizean society.