Teenagers getting pregnant and deciding to keep their children may not be the ideal thing but it certainly doesn’t deserve the hand wringing and moral panics that tend to go on around it. Or the assumptions and prejudice ideas that teen mothers get labeled with. Through my work I recently met a couple of young mothers who are settled, focused, are educated about parenting and are planning their futures and I really believe this is because they have support behind them, from their families and from a local young mothers support group. I am so sick of hearing young mothers described as promiscuous, feckless, spongers, getting pregnant just for a council house.
Teenagers can bring up children and bring them up well. what they need rather than judgement is support, from family, community and the government.

A recent article in the Guardian examines a recent study on teenage motherhood and finds:

The research describes how teenage parenthood has been linked by politicians and the media with “moral and cultural breakdown”, but says it should be seen as “more opportunity than catastrophe”.

The study, Teenage Parenthood: What’s the Problem?, challenges preconceptions, arguing that many teenage mothers are motivated to turn their lives around to provide for their children.

Dr Claire Alexander, a lecturer at the London School of Economics, and one of the editors of the study, said: “Stereotypes of such young women as poor and ignorant, dysfunctional and immoral, engaging in casual sex and churning out babies who they cannot care for adequately and do not care about in order to gain access to welfare benefits and council housing, often underlie concerns about teenage pregnancy and parenting. However, these stereotypes are not borne out by the research evidence – in fact, quite the contrary.”

Rates of teenage pregnancy are higher in disadvantaged areas and it is this that causes the children of teen mothers to be disadvantaged, not the fact that their mothers are so young. The Guardian article continues:

The study argues that governments should focus on tackling the original disadvantage often experienced by teenage parents, rather than on attacking their decision to become parents. Its research confirms that children born to teenage mothers are born into disadvantage, but suggests that this disadvantage predates the pregnancy and is not the result of it.

The study also refreshingly points out the classism and misogyny in the moral panics over teenage motherhood

“The [study] explores how this fear of teenage pregnancy is bound up in stereotypes of working-class young women whose out-of-control sexuality has historically concerned the ruling classes as having a dangerous potential for social and moral disorder

What young parents need is support, motherhood is something that a society should take seriously but even more so if the mother is young and/or vulnerable

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