North East Essex Pct Annual Report Evaluation

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Preventing teenage pregnancy in Britain

Preventing Teenage Pregancy in Britain

Section A


It is widely understood that teenage pregnancy and early motherhood can be associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation, poverty and related factors. There is also a growing recognition that socio-economic disadvantage can be both a cause and a consequence of teenage parenthood.

The UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in western Europe (UNICEF, 2001). Throughout most of the region, birth rates to teenage mothers fell during the 1970s, but UK rates have been fairly consistent, staying relatively stable since 1969 (Botting et al., 1998). In 1998, the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) was asked by the Prime Minister to study the causes of teenage pregnancy and to develop a strategy to reduce the high rates of teenage pregnancy and parenthood in England. The SEU published its report, Teenage Pregnancy (SEU, 1999), and this provides a comprehensive review of the area and identifies the most effective approaches to tackle teenage pregnancy. Reduce the rate of teenage conceptions, with the specific aim of halving the rate of conceptions among under 18 year olds by 2010.

Increase to 60% the participation of teenage parents in education, training and employment to reduce their risk of long-term social exclusion by 2010. That report sets out a ten-year national strategy for meeting these aims, and a concerted programme of national and regional work, coordinated by the cross-government Teenage Pregnancy Unit (TPU), is underway. Girls and young women from social class V are at approximately ten times the risk of becoming teenage mothers as girls and young women from social class I. Young people with below average achievement levels at ages 7 and 16 have also been found to be at significantly higher risk of becoming teenage parents (Kiernan, 1995). We know less about who becomes a young father (but the above refers to young parents).

Evidence suggests (Kiernan, 1995) that young fathers (defined as those who became fathers before the age of 22), like young mothers, are more likely to come from lower socio-economic groups, from families that have experienced financial difficulties, and are more likely than average to have left school at the minimum age.

These factors include: Negative short, medium and longterm health and mental health outcomes for young mothers (Botting et al., 1998) Education and employment - as well as being more likely to have problems at school before they become pregnant, young mothers are less likely to complete their education, have no qualifications by age 33, be in receipt of benefits and if employed be on lower incomes than their peers (SEU, 1999) Housing - 80% of under 18 mothers live in someone else's household (eg parents) (Botting et al., 1998), and teenagers are more likely to have to move house during pregnancy Family - teenage mothers are more likely to be lone parents (Kiernan, 1995), and more likely to find themselves in the middle of family conflict (SEU, 1999) ...
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