TODAY’s Editorial: Baby abandonment. Where are the fathers?

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By Audley Phillip

Much has been said and written about a baby that was recently placed in a cardboard box and abandoned on a verandah in the Gray’s Hill area. Talk shows and social media have literally lit up with everyone giving their opinions on what transpired and of course how the matter should be dealt with.

Why do mothers abandon their babies though?  What goes through a mother’s mind as she leaves her baby and walks away?  These are just some of the questions that I am sure many persons have asked.  But wait . . . read on! Let’s judge less and understand more. It’s an important message to society about circumstances that force mothers to abandon their babies.

People point fingers at mothers and label them as evil. Fine. Maybe somehow they need to carry the blame to their grave. But have people asked themselves ‘where are the fathers?’ Surely it takes two to make a baby. Don’t just give fathers a free pass and lay the blame on the mother alone. Many fathers are just as guilty and are responsible for the situation that leads to the mother abandoning the child.

Many young women are in relationships with older guys today. It is a very common practice in our society. Because of their socio-economic condition, many young women are looking for a man who can help them with food, clothing and other basic necessities as well as putting a roof over their head. It has very little to do with love and more to do with daily sustenance and who is best able to help. So, she finds a man who “raps” well, says all the right things, he is obviously very loving, provides very well for her and her family and even pays her school fees and other expenses. Nothing about this excellent provider is suspicious until she becomes pregnant. After telling him that she is pregnant, she would discover that he is married with several children. More often than not, that is where the relationship ends.

Mr Lover would encourage her to get an abortion and if she refuses, she just might never see him again. He would never call. Most young women, in their mind, would be thinking that maybe he is shocked and he will calm down eventually, but that never happens. These young mothers-to-be would carry the baby to full term with absolutely no help and it is during this period that the difficult decision is made not to keep the baby once it is born. So sad indeed!

There are lots of men in our society today who refuse to use condoms whilst having sex with their younger partners. They often assure them that if they become pregnant that they will take care of them and the baby. Most young women allow it but then when they get pregnant, the man abandons them.

It is this unplanned pregnancy and the lack of support that have driven many young mothers to abandon their newborn. Many are led to believe that neither adoption nor abortion was a viable option. Additionally, young boys and girls with little or no parenting skills are making babies today and neither of them really knows and understands how to care for a child. So quite often, it is left up to the mother to do what she can.

Young pregnant mothers quite often find it extremely difficult to communicate with family members and a feeling of being overwhelmed is another major factor that might cause a young mother to want to abandon her child.

So, what do we do? We need meaningful programs on sex education and awareness for our young people. Our society is also in dire need of “teenager-friendly clinics” where young girls in particular can feel comfortable asking for help.

It takes a village to raise a child and there are many people in our society today who are walking around seemingly quite normal. They smile everyday but we never know how much they are fighting to keep it together.

(Audley Phillip is a veteran sales and customer service specialist having worked in the telecommunications sector for well over 25 years.  He is now a freelance writer as well as a news and current affairs analyst)

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