Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood: Global Perspectives, Issues and Interventions

Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood: Global Perspectives, Issues and Interventions

Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood: Global Perspectives, Issues and Interventions

Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood: Global Perspectives, Issues and Interventions


The debate of teenage pregnancy and parenthood continues to be a topical media and political issue, and a contested policy area. Covering the controversial issues, this book contributes to the debate, filling the gap in the current market. The strong chapter selection looks at areas such as:

  • education
  • social policy and welfare reforms in the UK and US
  • issues for young fathers
  • child sex abuse
  • girls with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

This is invaluable reading for those working on government strategies to reduce teen pregnancies and those working in sex education and youth care.


The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the ‘meaningful’ contexts within which teenage parents operate, and the power of social discourse in defining them as problematic. The following chapters take a more specific focus upon the varied and complex issues emanating from the issue of teenage pregnancy and motherhood. Initially, however, we need to note that teen pregnancy, and subsequently teenage motherhood, is often placed in the public consciousness alongside other facets of adolescent life experience such as drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence and delinquency. These are all aspects of deviant behaviour within the confusion of adolescent development that are best prevented, since they constitute a threat to the very fabric of society if allowed to flourish unchecked, as well as to the health and well-being of the young people themselves. They represent a cost to society—an actual financial cost through restitution and rehabilitation, an opportunity cost through the loss to society of economic activity and a moral cost. Our young people appear to have rejected many of the moral precepts that shaped destinies and formed the principled basis of interpersonal relationships in past generations.

Research into each of these different aspects of adolescent deviance often implicates disadvantageous socio-economic, class-based and familial structural factors in the early experience of many young people at risk, suggesting that deviance is a reaction to exclusion, actual or felt, an attempt to deny social invisibility and to leave a footprint that others can see. Programmes of preventative education are often less effective than hoped, particularly when delivered in schools, as their ability to change some aspect of the psychosocial environment of the young person on an enduring basis is essentially limited. By early adolescence most young people will have acquired, or have begun to acquire, a set of attitudes and dispositions to their environment based on their actual life experiences. For many growing up in urban environments, their behaviours are normalised within the harshness of life as they experience it. Poverty has to be seen within the overall dynamic of lack of opportunity, inappropriate role models and lack of a sense of future. Exclusion is less a positive act than an endemic socialised experience. Exclusion relates to lack of personal power and lack of choice, real or felt, an inability to shape one’s future within the status quo. Many pregnant teenagers who go on to become teen mothers emerge from such disadvantaged backgrounds. Their reasons for becoming pregnant are sometimes complex, but despite this they are frequently demonised by the media as deliberate queue jumpers seeking social housing. For government the issues are not so easily accounted for or dismissed. How should a modern social democracy respond to the causes and effects of teenage pregnancy? To treat it is as a subject to be solved by education is clearly indefensible; the fact that the level of teenage pregnancy in the UK is . . .

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