Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, the Executive Director of the National Population Council, has called on parents to be responsible in the upkeep of their children to prevent them, especially the girls, from entering into early sexual relationships.
She said many parents cared less about the welfare of their children once they managed to pay their school fees.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr Appiah said a number of parents paid less attention to what their children ate at school, their uniform or footwear, as well as their personal needs.
“Children are menstruating and they have to go look for their own pads. That is a tragedy, because when you give birth to a girl, you should know that at a point in time, she will need pads, which is a physiological need,” she said.
“If you don’t provide her basic needs and she also wants to go to school, when a man makes advances and willing to provide her with those needs, that child could fall into his trap.”
She said parents must develop close relationships with their children so they could tell them their problems, especially when men tried to take advantage of them.
“There is no need for parents to dress up and go to church on Sunday when they do not know the whereabouts of their children or what they are feeding on,” she said.
“How possible should it be that you don’t cater for the child you have brought forth and then you go to church to worship God, when the child is your first disciple and responsibility.”
Parenting, she said, was not cheap, and urged parents who shirked their responsibility after giving birth to live up to the task.
Responding to issues raised about some teachers making advances at students, especially in public schools, Dr Appiah said even though the Ghana Education Service (GES) had a responsibility to protect the child, parents must also play their role to ensure their children were safe.
“For me, if my child comes to tell me a teacher is sexually harassing her, in the next minute, I would be in the school. But some parents would not do that…”
Dr Appiah said the Comprehensive Sexuality Education introduced into the curricula of basic and second cycle schools would help build a better self-esteem for children from poor homes.
On the other hand, she said, some rich parents thought paying their children’s school fees was what parenting was all about; ”hence when you talk about the consequences of population growth, they say: ‘what if I can afford to cater for them.”
Dr Appiah said though money was needful in parenting time was also a very important factor and urged parents to have smaller families to enable them to share quality time with their children.
“If parents don’t share quality time with their children bad teachers, peers, and the internet would take over.”