Opinion: Social media’s role in unwanted pregnancy

Yaowanit Nongkom, 33, a Vachira Phuket Hospital psychologist originally from Roi Et province, has been working at Vachira Phuket Hospital for nine years. She graduated with a degree in clinical and community psychology from Ramkhamhaeng University. Ms Yaowanit is head of the One Stop Crisis Center (OSCC) at the hospital.

Here, she talks about how social media networks can play a part in unwanted pregnancies and what options these expectant mothers have, without taking the life of a child.

PHUKET: The way we live our lives and the ways in which we communicate with each other have changed drastically over the years. We now cannot deny that having a smart phone is important. In fact, most people cannot stand to be caught without their smart phones next to them at all times. The same goes for teenagers.

At that age, it is important to be the center of attention – especially for young women. Teenage girls dress nicely and put forth a certain image of themselves on their social media profiles. This is then seen by a lot of people, men included.

The social media lifestyle has also made it very easy for people to connect and meet each other. Once young people are interested in starting a relationship with someone, they do not have to try very hard to do so.

This way of connecting provides more opportunities for young people to meet and have sex, which can result in unwanted pregnancies.

It is therefore imperative that parents take up the role of both protector and friend for their children, and help them make more informed choices. This can help prevent the number of unwanted pregnancies among the younger generations.

Although Phuket itself does not have a serious record of unwanted teen pregnancies, I still urge parents on the island, and everywhere, to keep a close watch on their children. Parents must try to be a good friend and leader, rather than attempting to control the lives of their kids. Young people have minds of their own, and will not respond well to being told what to do and how to do it. The more a parent tries to control what a child does, the more that child will push away and continue to make decisions on his or her own.

Be a good friend. Be open to their opinion and give them advice when needed. Get close to them, but not too close. Most important, though, is to not let them be alone with their computer or smart phone at home. This can be a big challenge for parents, but it is important to try to monitor these activities.

If an unwanted pregnancy does occur, however, it is not the end of the line for these teenagers. This is where we are available to step in. These young girls should know that they have options – they do not have to terminate their pregnancy.

Some pregnant women do have the right to have a legal abortion. For example, it is granted for those who have become pregnant as a result of rape, or if the mother is incapable of having the child due to mental or physical problems. If the mother is not in either of those situations, our suggestion is to keep the baby. We will guide her and help her.

There is free medical care and psychological counseling provided for mothers in need. When an expectant mother comes to us, we will talk about what it means and takes to raise a child, and all of the reasons there are for keeping a pregnancy. The mothers can have their lives back without taking any lives in the process.

If, in the end, the mother has the baby and decides not to keep it herself, the government will take over. The child will be sent to a girls’ or boys’ home and will enter the adoption process. There are so many loving parents in this world who are unable to have children of their own.

We work closely with other government agencies, such as the Phuket Shelter for Children and Families in Koh Sireh. Expectant and new mothers who for any reason cannot stay in their home or their community can go to the shelter. The doors are always open for those in need.

If you or someone you know has found herself with an unwanted pregnancy, please have her contact or visit the One Stop Crisis Center (OSCC) at Vachira Phuket Hospital. We are here to help.

Opinion

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