Teens Getting Pregnant Shortly After Reaching 16 Years Old Worrying For Officials

Jamaican teens are waiting a little longer to get pregnant, but not by much. While in previous years the teens getting pregnant for the first time averaged 14 years, the authorities are now seeing the majority getting pregnant at 16 years.

Dr Zoe Simpson, executive director of the Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica, told The Sunday Gleaner that while the girls are older, they are still generally ill-prepared for motherhood.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, data from the Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica, which attempts to motivate young mothers to choose education instead over motherhood, showed that of the 660 new students admitted, 217 were 16 years old.

Simpson noted that getting pregnant at 16 creates challenges for the authorities as it means that a girl at this age would not necessarily need to disclose the father of her child since she is able to consent to having s*x.

It means, too, that the individual who impregnated her would not face any criminal charges if it was not a rape case, although she is still considered a child under the law.

“No girl will come outright and tell you that she has deliberately delayed a pregnancy until this age,” said Simpson.

“As to why, we can only conjecture. It’s not a question that we ask as to why you waited until this time. As a matter of fact, it should not have happened, they are still underage, although 16 is the age of consent,” added Simpson.

Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison is also concerned about the teenagers getting pregnant. She, too, contends that while they might be legal to have s*x, they are not ready for motherhood.

Gordon Harrison is among those lobbying the government to increase the age of consent to 18 years old; however, during her latest appearance before a joint select committee of Parliament which discussed the issue, parliamentarians seemed unconvinced.

“When you have a 16-year-old still being classified as a child, still living at home with parents, still going to school; when you have that person still being a child for all intent and purposes, but you are saying, ‘you know what, if you have s*x, it is OK’, it is a mixed signal,” Gordon Harrison told The Sunday Gleaner.

“At the centre of my argument is that artificial kind of separation doesn’t afford our 16- and 17-year-olds the protection under the law that I think they should have,” she added.


According to Gordon Harrison, while she does not believe the girls deliberately set out to get pregnant at 16 years old, the fact is that s*x is permissible at this age and, as such, they will partake.

“I think they are just having s*x because they can, and because they are not really as careful as they should be, they happen to get pregnant.

“These are children who we are taking away the protection from because the age of consent is 16. At the centre of my argument is that if we are serious about limiting particular acts that affect children, then we should protect all children and not some,” she said.

Simpson agreed: “We don’t want them pregnant at 16 and 17 when they should be focusing on doing their CXCs and trying to matriculate for tertiary-level education. We want our young people in the colleges and the universities and the training institutions beyond high school,” argued Simpson.

“We all know, once you start your family, it is almost not your opportunity anymore, you have to ensure that everything is in place for that child,” she added.

The join select committee is currently reviewing the oral and written submissions from the members of the public relating to the Violence against Women and Children, the S*xual Offences Act, the Child Care and Protection Act and the Domestic Violence Act.

The committee is expected to submit its report to Parliament by next month.


  1. Excellent article. Very informative and I am glad they are fighting to raise the age of consent.
    This is a very serious matter and we as a society are taking away SO much from every these girls’ edcucation, potential and future, if we do not protect them.

    My daughter is still a late teen, now in college and studying to be a Registered Nurse and MIdwife. She starts her clinical next semestt, in only her first year in this accelerated program.
    I cannot imagine her with child at sixteen. It is TRAGIC when no one helps these girls and help prevent this early pregnancy situation .

    I already told my daughter that as soon as she is qualified and even before when she has enough experience, It would mean a lot to me if she goes to islands like Jamaica, Trinidad etc… even the continent of Africa and reach out to girls like these who are already pregnant an help talk to the ones to prevent them from early pregnancy and push them towards career.

    We as Black and Caribbean people need to do better. Teach our children to help others and get ourselves OUT of this poverty cycle!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top