UK Study: Teenage Pregnancy More Opportunity Than Catastrophe
Teenage pregnancy is one of those hotly debated issues that transcends the home and political arenas. There are opinions about the issue that run the gamut.
However, results from a new study, set to be announced next week, will challenge preconceptions, arguing that many teenage mothers are motivated to turn their lives around to provide for their children.
The UK study, called "Teenage Parenthood: What's the Problem?" is not the symbol of a broken society, as heralded by politicians, but can be a positive force for good.
"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," Dr. Claire Alexander, a lecturer at the London School of Economics, and one of the editors of the study, told the Guardian in an intervew. "However, these stereotypes are not borne out by the research evidence – in fact, quite the contrary."
The study says that politicians have focused on attacking teenage pregnancy, rather than tackling the social and economic disadvantage that often prefigures it.
Calling the high teenage birthrate Britain's "shameful record", Tony Blaire and the British government pledged in 1999 to halve pregnancies for under-18s by mid-2010. The government then launched the teenage pregnancy strategy to address what it perceived as a critical social and economic problem.
According to the Guardian, the study questions the notion that all teenage pregnancies are unplanned. It cites evidence suggesting that many teenage parents are "positively ambivalent" towards childbirth and that "They do not actually plan it, but would quite like a baby and do not use contraception for that reason."
It concludes, the Guardian writes, that "teenage childbirth does not often result from ignorance or low expectations, it is rarely a catastrophe for young women, and … teenage parenting does not particularly cause poor outcomes for mothers and their children".