The latest case of undetected teen pregnancy has thrown spotlight on Lithuania's inadequate approach to sex education.
This week, the country was shocked by news about a 13-year-old going into labour at a summer camp – without either the camp leaders or the girl's parents being aware of her pregnancy.
Moreover, according to reports, the presumed father is an adult and is facing charges of sexual relations with a minor.
The girl gave birth in mid-July. According Ramunė Liubinaitė, spokeswoman for the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service, both the mother and child are in good health.
Until the girl turns 18, her mother has been appointed temporary custodian of the baby.
“The mother of the young mother has assumed responsibility for her grandchild. The family has had some issues in the past, they have received social services, but the problems have been addressed, they can take care of themselves and their daughter with the baby,” Liubinaitė told LRT.lt.
The family, that lives in Kaunas, will be assisted by social workers and child rights specialists, she added.
According to Liubinaitė, child protection services had not received any reports about sexual abuse of the girl or her pregnancy.
“Law enforcement are conducting an investigation. Since a minor gave birth, they are seeking to confirm who the father is and investigate the circumstances,” she said.
Inadequate sexual education
According to Liubiniatė, 109 underaged girls gave birth in Lithuania in 2020 and 136 the year before.
The case is far from unique, says Esmeralda Kuliešytė, gynecologist and head of the Family Planning Association. Lithuania is falling short of its commitments to address teen pregnancy.
“There is no law on sexual health, there is no sexual education programme [at school],” Kuliešytė told LRT.lt. “The programme, such as it is, is under the influence of catholic groups and people who are not very well-educated and who are afraid to talk about everything. [...] It seems, that the prevailing opinion is still that kids under 18 should not know anything. Except that there's marriage and then come children.”
There are no specially trained instructors to teach sex education at schools, she noted, and the burden is put on ordinary teachers.
At the moment, the Ministry of Education and Science is preparing a new Health and Sexual Education and Family Preparation programme. However, Kuliešytė said, early drafts suggest that it will not be up to the task.
“There is no focus on the key things. It even seems that they're reluctant to talk about sexuality, sexually transmitted infections or preventing unwanted pregnancy, putting emphasis instead on abstinence,” she said.