Romania ranks first in the European Union in the number of underage mothers. Health and social care experts say lack of health education, poverty and family problems are to blame for this grim statistic. The solutions are, for now, only on paper.
Romania ranks first in underage mothers PHOTO Save the Children
According to official statistics, Romania ranks first in the European Union for girls who give birth under the age of 15. Data from the National Institute of Statistics show that only in 2022, in Romania, 687 girls under the age of 15 gave birth to a child. The same statistics show that eight out of ten underage mothers in Romania drop out of school, and four out of ten do not monitor their pregnancy with a specialist doctor.
The consequences are multiple, from children born prematurely, with serious health problems, abandonment of the newborn, no employment opportunities due to the low level of education, plus other problems of a social nature.
Specialists from the north of Moldova, an area with a known incidence of underage mothers, say that the reasons why this phenomenon took off are multiple.
“The lack of education is a problem”
In Botoșani county, almost every year, around ten minors give birth to a child. There were also cases where teenage girls as young as 16 were already on their second pregnancy. Specialists in health, but also in social assistance, say that one of the causes is the lack of education.
Usually, underage mothers grew up in disorganized families, single-parent families or where the parents' interest in the child's education is reduced. According to specialists, it is a problem of lack of education in the first place, then poor communication with parents and lack of family support.
“Many of these young women come from single-parent families, where there are hardly any conditions or there are conflicts in the family”, says Alina Gheorghiu, experienced social worker and head of the Maternal Center.
The situation is also confirmed by doctor Carmen Zaboloteanu, head of the Neonatology Department at the Botoșani Maternity Hospital and who annually deals with dozens of children born to underage mothers.
“A previous education would prepare them for this and make this informed decision at the right time. This thing is missing a lot in the Romanian school. Preparing youth for life, for what it means to be a parent”says Carmen Zaboloteanu.
Poverty and the desire to escape a hostile environment
In addition to the lack of sexual education, many underage mothers end up in that situation because of material shortages, but, say social education specialists, also because of the desire to escape from the troubles at home.
Most minor mothers come from rural areas, from needy families. Sometimes parents have problems with vices.
“There were cases where they believed in the good faith of a savior partner who promised to give them a better life. Initially, they thought they were getting away from their problems at home, but in the end it wasn't what they imagined”states Alina Gheorghiu.
“Spoil the children! Learn how to fool around”
DSP Botoșani representatives are trying their best to introduce sex education as a compulsory subject in school. In the countryside, opinions are divided. On the one hand, there are those who agree with such a thing, but not from a young age.
“It's good to be, but from 15-16 years old. Not from small children. That they have no idea what world they live in and tell them all the nonsense”confesses a villager from the Coșula area.
Other villagers, however, don't even want to hear about sex education.
“It spoils the children. Learn how to fool around. If you keep telling them how to do, what to do, they're tempted to try, right? To pray better to God”says another villager.