National / Science & Health

With Japan's schools out, more teens seek advice on pregnancy

One consultation center in Kobe saw inquiries double in March, with 70 percent coming from teenage students

JIJI

The number of junior and senior high school students seeking consultations about pregnancy is rising amid prolonged school closures aimed at preventing the spread of the new coronavirus.

“With school and extracurricular activities on hold, some home-bound students had opportunities for sex that resulted in unwanted pregnancies,” said an official of a private-sector consultation service contacted by students from across the country.

Jikei Hospital in the city of Kumamoto, known for its Konotori no Yurikago (Storks’ Cradle) baby hatch, where parents can leave their babies anonymously if they have difficulties raising them on their own, has seen a rise in consultation requests from female junior and senior high school students since March, when the nationwide school closures began.

A student told the hospital she had a positive pregnancy test after having sex at her home during a school closure when her parents were away.

Even in usual times, requests for consultations about pregnancy from junior and senior high school students tend to increase after long breaks such as summer recess, according to Jikei Hospital and others.

In April this year, the hospital received 75 requests for such consultations from junior and senior high school students, up by 17 from a year before. They represented 13 percent of the total requests for consultations about pregnancy that month, hitting the highest level since the hospital opened its dedicated point of contact.

Chiisana Inochi no Doa (A Small Door for Lives), a consultation center that gives advice about pregnancy at a maternity hospital in Kobe, has been flooded with consultation requests from students.

A senior high school student in western Japan told the office that she engaged in so-called enjo kōsai compensated dating because the COVID-19 crisis prevented her from doing a part-time job.

She found she was pregnant through a pregnancy test after contacting the office.

The center typically receives 20 to 30 consultation requests a month. The number doubled in March and reached 89 in April. The share of teenagers, which is normally about 20 percent, came to 70 percent.

“There is no 100 percent sure way to avoid pregnancy. Sex should not be mistaken for love,” said Yoriko Nishio, who works for Chiisana Inochi no Doa.

“Sex is related to the issue of life,” said Makoto Hasuda, head of the Jikei Hospital section providing consultations about newborns. “It’s necessary to improve education” about sex, Hasuda added.

“Worries should not be kept to oneself. Feel free to contact us early,” Hasuda said.

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