Who's Fit to Be a Parent?

By Mukti Jain Campion | Go to book overview

10

Teenage mothers

ALARM OVER TEENAGE BABY BOOM

Teenage girls are more likely to become mothers than ever before, with one in 20 in some of Britain's towns and cities becoming pregnant this year. Conception rates among 14 year olds have risen nearly 50 per cent in a decade.

…Leading campaigners are to call for an inquiry. 'We are extremely concerned, ' said Doreen Massey, director of the Family Planning Association. 'We would like an investigation, which we hope would lead to greater provision of sex education in schools and family planning services for young people'.

Typical of the teenage mothers is Daniella who was 14 when her first sexual relationship led to pregnancy. She had Chloe when she was 15. After the birth she suffered a year of depression, partly because the father had gone off with another girl, making her pregnant too. Now 16 she lives with her baby in a home for young mothers. She loves Chloe, a blonde toddler with an appetite for dancing to acid house music. But if she had her time again she would not have a child so young: 'You've got the rest of your life to get pregnant'.

(Tim Rayment and Grace Bradberry, Sunday Times 5/1/92)

The age at which people should become first-time parents has traditionally been deemed by society to fall between 21 and around 35. Even today baby adoptions outside these ages are virtually impossible and the option of fertility treatment on the NHS remote. But things are changing: more and more people are becoming parents outside these margins and are forcing society to re-examine the arguments that had previously been used against them. Below the lower age margin teenage conception rates are on a steeply upward curve. In early 1992, the papers carried reports of the youngest known father in Britain-a thirteen year old who had impregnated a girl not much older than himself. Only a few weeks earlier the papers reported the case of a 50 year old woman who had just given birth to her first child as a result of private fertility treatment. These may be extremes but there is no doubt that more and more teenagers and more and more women over 36 are becoming first-time mothers. The two groups have been stigmatised for

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Who's Fit to Be a Parent?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Parents on Trial 5
  • 1 - The State Versus Parents 7
  • 2 - Other People's Children 38
  • 3 - Parents Apart 63
  • 4 - Playing God 96
  • 5 - Key Themes from Part I 117
  • Part II - Parents on the Edge 129
  • 6 - Disabled Parents 133
  • 7 - Mentally Handicapped Parents 151
  • 8 - Drug Addicted Mothers 168
  • 9 - Gay Parents 177
  • 10 - Teenage Mothers 189
  • 11 - Older Mothers 197
  • 12 - Single Mothers 205
  • 13 - Lone Fathers 217
  • 14 - Working Mothers 225
  • 15 - Black Parents 239
  • 16 - Key Themes from Part II 261
  • Part III - The Job Description 269
  • 17 - The Ideal Model and the Actual Model of Fit Parenting 271
  • 18 - Implications of the Actual Model of Fit Parenting to Assessment 281
  • 19 - Looking Forward 300
  • Bibliography 303
  • Index 309
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