She explained that in this age of internet, camera phones, and reality television there are many breeding grounds for unhealthy sexual practices and pitfalls among adolescents.
“We will be left to clean up the mess of premature and irresponsible sexual practices among our young people,” she said.
Carmona was yesterday addressing a large gathering on the occasion of World Population Day under the theme “Investing in Teenage Girls.” In commemoration of World Population Day a forum of youth, government officials, civil society and representatives from the UN spoke at the Little Carib Theatre, corner White and Roberts Streets, Woodbrook.
Carmona said this year’s theme belies grave concern that the nation’s teenage girls run the risk of not fulfilling their “God-given talents, aspirations and ambitions,” in the Caribbean and worldwide.
She said parents must be vigilant to ensure that their teenage girls do not fall prey to the roaming predators that exist in cyber space.
“We no longer can simply hope for the best, leaving it up to the teachers in the schools or the church,” Carmona said.
“The battle is sometimes not one steeped in poverty but rather, it has become a battle of the minds and for the minds, of our teenagers.” She explained that when population- related issues are added, such sexual exploitation, violence to young women, forced child marriages, the issue of adolescent pregnancy translates to nothing short of a “crisis.” Carmona indicated that governments everywhere need to invest in teenage girls in ways that empower them to make important life decisions.
“I think everyone gathered here today can agree that equity, equality and respect for human and women’s rights are the standards to which every initiative geared toward women empowerment, including addressing issues of adolescent pregnancy, must aspire toward, achieve and adhere,” she said.
She noted that organisations such as Girl Guides, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Coterie of Workers and St Vincent De Paul can be used in the development of teenaged girls.
Also speaking yesterday, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ayanna Webster- Roy said there are too many teenage girls living unhealthy lifestyles either because of their sociological background, ethnicity, geographical location or just the lack of the right guidance, support and supervision from a trustworthy guardian.