Archive for June, 2013

By Luzuko Magengelele (Gr10)
I never thought growing up would mean this. A few years back the concept of growing up sounded so enticing. I never thought such a simple thing could be so challenging , but then again that’s how we grow; we learn from trials and tribulations.
See my childhood has always been infatuated by dreams of how I’d live my teenage life. I’d look at a high school student with envy, analysing the way she dressed to the way she carried herself with over-flowing confidence, swinging her hips in a seemingly systematic rhythm. I’d look at her and think to myself “high school is the life”. Such a clichéd expression but I never even knew that back then.
Saturdays would come and I’d see my neighbour jumping into some car with her friends, getting ready to attend a party. I wanted to be her. I wanted to be pretty and wear fancy dresses. I even wanted to be popular. to me that’s all a teenage life entailed. No worries just parties.
Five years down the line I find myself reminiscing about my childhood again. Memories of getting soaked in the mud impregnate my mind. a child’s laughter becomes a reminder of the good old days. See now I know the truth. I’ve grown enough to know that teenage life is no walk in the park.
That girl (my neighbour) swung her hips with confidence and held her nose in the air but inside, inside she was probably just a little girl crying for help. Every time she went to a party she probably left behind tons of homework and studying to do ; she probably left behind a drunk mother and teary eyed siblings ; she probably left behind nights of terror, torment and fear. Who knows. No one will ever know her story but I know for sure that she had one. We all do.
We all have our reasons for trying so hard to look eighteen so that the bouncers at Space Bar wouldn’t ask for our IDs. Its the kind of life a girl living in the dusty streets of Gugulethu lives. We wanna be cool and popular, be seen driving around in that “hot” guy’s car. Our aim is to receive a lot of likes on our pictures on Facebook. We wanna lose our virginities to our boyfriends just to make them stay. Pretty stupid and messed up but trust us we don’t care.
We don’t care whether our grades are sinking with our attitudes towards school. We don’t even care what our parents say anymore. All our life entails is social networking, eating, getting high, listening to music and attending parties. We don’t even care how much it will cost our future.  We’ll just fall pregnant and receive the tax you work so hard for.
I look at these situations and think “I never thought it was this messed up” . Now I wish I was just a spectator in the teen world again. I want to be that girl with the “Minnie Mouse” ponytails again. I want to jam to “Sponge Bob Squared Pants” and the “Telly Tubbies” again.
I didn’t wanna be influenced by these tendencies of the messed up society we live in. A society that brainwashes my already perishing people.

By Jude Wells, Grade 11

Other than STD’s and contracting HIV, there is another great risk that is carried when it comes to teenage sex: teenage pregnancy. 1 out of 3 women under the age of 20 in South Africa have a child. That statistic and many personal stories that you may know, highlights the prevalence of teenage pregnancy and therefore the prevalence of its negative consequences. But now there is another risk facing pregnant teens in South Africa, an unfair risk: the risk of losing their education.

And that is why we will kick you out of school...Really?

And that is why we will kick you out of school…Really?

Two schools in the Free State have adopted a policy which allows their school to expel and bar pregnant girls from coming to school. After the policy was challenged in court, the court later ruled in favour of the school. The school’s policy is now being challenged in the constitutional court. It is rather ironic that this case has been taken up all the way to the constitutional court since girls’ right to education is a right granted by our constitution. What could these judges possibly be discussing? Whether pregnant girls are no longer applicable to our constitution? Their right to an education should never, and under no circumstances, be taken away from them.

Although some may argue for this policy, saying that it should be implemented for practical, medical and emotional purposes.  Just because it might take a little extra effort from the school, and the pregnant girls, it is not sufficient grounds to deny her education. Although other students might feel uncomfortable being around a pregnant girl it is important to remember that the she probably feels much worse. It is the girl who has to deal with the emotional stress of being pregnant in a context of social judgement. It would also be absurd to think that by the mere fact that a girl is pregnant that she is actively disrupting somebody else’s education.

Most of the negative socio-economic effects associated with teenage pregnancy can be attributed to their lack of education due to dropping out of school. Why are we not encouraging teenage girls to get an education? Instead there are schools who wish to forcefully push them away. This is just exacerbating the problems that teenage girls face. It does not make any sense to take away the solution which could lessen the negative effects of teenage pregnancy. With an education young mothers will have an opportunity to provide a better life for their child.

Teenage pregnancy remains a sensitive topic in South Africa, and all over the world. However, we cannot use our sensitivity towards this issue and our judgements  and turn a blind eye to the danger that is looming, pending the outcome of the Constitutional Court. If the court rules in favour the schools governing body, there could be a dangerous precedent set for other schools around the country.

After countless hours of contemplating how to approach this topic -which was pretty tough for a girl who can’t even say “sex” without laughing- I decided to just be blunt about it. Teenagers are having sex.
that awkward moment...The physical activities of teenagers in South Africa has recently been put in the limelight due to the recent debate over some sections of the Sexual Offenses Act. One of the first acts to reach our bedrooms; which criminalises consensual sex amongst children between the ages of 12 to 16.

Quite frankly I find this to be utterly stupid. Two contrasting ideas where on the one hand sex between teenagers is illegal, while children over the age of 12 can be provided with condoms. Make up your mind, government!

Not only are they contradicting themselves, but also causing an already controversial topic to become legally taboo. Criminalising something, especially something which could be considered a rite of passage to some, is not going to make anybody stop doing it- it will just make us a little bit sneakier.

Teenagers are vulnerable, naïve and hormonal creatures. This irrational law is causing teenagers to become even more vulnerable. How can we learn responsibility about sex when just talking about it is so off-limits? If we are already afraid to ask questions, we become more ignorant about sex and the health implications- and become much more susceptible to making the wrong decisions concerning sex.

Many people are justifying this Act as being an answer to the ongoing issue of teen pregnancy and HIV-positive rates amongst children, but that is definitely not the case. By approving this law, there will not be any change in teen pregnancy or HIV rates, there will just be an increase in teenagers with criminal offenses to their name.
The solution to the issue of sexually related problems is not making teenage sex illegal, but by improving and increasing the sexual education of children. Sex should not be a topic that teachers and parents are too uncomfortable to address, and children are too afraid to ask about. It should be a topic that we can openly discuss without feeling guilty. Once this happens, children will have more knowledge on how to be responsible.
Whether I, or any one of my peers, decide to have sex now, when we’re twenty or when we’re married- is none of any body’s business(especially not the government’s)- because that’s exactly what it is, my choice.

I’m taking liberty with Spiderman’s words, “With[ teenage sex], comes great responsibility.” Teenagers have to remember though; if you choose to have sex, then choose to be responsible.

Written Imrah Kamedien, Grade 10

be responsible