'Talk to us about sex and drugs'
Teenagers, faced with challenges such as pregnancies and drugs, say parents need to be more open and talk to them about these issues to help them make better decisions.
A 17-year-old Grade 11 pupil, whose name is being withheld, believes she would not have fallen pregnant at the age of 14 had her mother and aunts told her about the dangers of underage sex.
"I was just told to stop playing with boys because they bring babies. I didn't even know what that meant," she said.
She said her 23-year-old boyfriend convinced her to have unprotected sex.
Recovering addict Riaz Dangor, 30, of Johannesburg was the same age when he first experimented with drugs.
"Parents are in denial and those who don't trust their gut feel are only setting their children up for failure."
The two were guest speakers at the Gauteng legislature's education committee summit on Saturday in Alexandra. Last year, the Annual Surveys for Ordinary Schools for 2009-2010 revealed that 109 Grade 3, 107 Grade 4 and 297 Grade 5 pupils fell pregnant in 2009.
The summit was convened to discuss the high failure and dropout rates in the province's schools. Committee chairman Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane said while conducting their research, a Grade 1 teacher complained about pupils sniffing glue in class.
"It all starts from a young age and as a joke. Years later children are addicted."
A 2012 Unisa study found that 26.7% of 4346 Gauteng pupils used drugs, with 95.5% of them preferring dagga.
Dangor said dagga was seen as a "soft drug'', but it was a gate to harder drugs.