Sharon Mottley- Deputy Executive Director of the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT)

Speaking at a webinar on teenage pregnancies hosted by the Ministry of Education, Deputy Executive Director of the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) Sharon Mottley says that parents are the first line of defense in the war for their children’s future and is calling on parents to step up and become part of the solution. Details follow in this press release from the FPATT:

Deputy Executive Director of the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) Sharon Mottley is calling on parents to step in as the first line of defense in the war for their children’s future.

Delivering remarks during a Community Voices webinar on teenage pregnancies hosted by the Ministry of Education of Trinidad and Tobago (MOE)’s Student Support Services Division for Port of Spain and environs on October 21st, Sharon, who has a long track record of advocacy for sexual and reproductive health, LGBTQ rights, the protection of victims of gender based violence, and in support of persons living with HIV/AIDS, called on parents to step up and become part of the solution.

“We are in a war for our children,” she said. “And what going to war for me means is getting very actively involved. Some of us complain about the system and what doesn’t work for us. Before we complain, we have to be a part of the solution.”

Pointing out that many teenagers today are learning about sex and sexuality from the peers, Sharon said parents and guardians should step in as the first line of defense, and engage in frank and open, age appropriate conversations with their children about their sexual reproductive health.

“When we give young people information, then they are better able to make informed decisions,” she said. “When we don’t, we leave the door wide open for some not so good decisions, resulting in increased teen pregnancies.” Sharon said FPATT is one of the oldest NGOs in Trinidad and Tobago at the forefront of the fight for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all persons living in Trinidad and Tobago, including the migrant community.

“Our portfolio of services is not just contraceptives but also HIV testing; cervical, breast, prostate cancer screenings; pap smears and rectal examinations; LGBTQ issues, gender issues, and HIV stigma issues, as well as youth issues and providing support for migrants and refugees,” she said. “We also do counselling, education services and tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We refer people for safe abortions and we address gender based violence, going beyond the talk, recognizing that victims of gender based violence are not only women and girls but across the board.”

Sharon also revealed that FPATT will be launching a new diagnostic clinic in November which will offer male circumcision, vasectomies, ultrasounds, as well as flu vaccine shots.

In the conversation around teenage pregnancies, she also called on parents to reassess pervading cultural stereotypes around girls and boys.

“Girls don’t get pregnant by themselves,” she pointed out. “But we are a society that tends to put a taboo on girls having sex but push our young boys to have sex… At FPATT, what we want to do is to train and empower parents to have that dialogue with their children.”