We need to take care of our young people.
There are some very worrying statistics that have been released in the last two weeks, involving rape, suicide and teen pregnancies.
The most worrying is the fact that one in five young teens in the Western Cape have attempted suicide in the last year.
The stats were made public by the SA Society of Psychiatrists and points to a serious breakdown in mental health services to citizens in general, but to our young people in particular.
The scary statistic is being attributed largely to the anxiety and sense of isolation caused by the Covid lockdowns over the last two years.
Add to that the worries about the cost of living caused by never-ending price increases, and it starts making sense.
Personal safety is another major concern for young people, who have to worry about being harmed, when they are finally able to socialise.
Which brings me to the other scary statistic, which reveals that there were more than 6 000 murders and more than 10 000 rapes in the country between January and March this year.
That means an average of 68 murders and 120 rapes every single day.
The sense of hopelessness and desperation can get too much for even the most optimistic among us.
Then there’s the latest stats around teen pregnancies.
There were 83 000 recorded in 2020, more than 7 200 of those were in the Western Cape.
And the numbers have been increasing over the past two years.
Again, the lockdown is being blamed for the lack of social and academic activities, leading to them experimenting with sex.
Poor sexual health decisions are also being driven by a lack good information at school and judgemental clinic staff when they seek out guidance or contraceptives.
Young people shouldn’t be driven away from clinics when asking for contraceptives, because it won’t stop them.
It just means that there’s the risk that they will go and engage in unsafe sex that could lead to disease or pregnancy.
But the point is, in addition to their raging hormones, the kids are being traumatised by having to negotiate very confusing and turbulent times.
We need to pay attention and help them get through it as unharmed as possible.
DISTRESS: 1 in 5 teens have attempted suicide