Tuesday, July 01, 2008

RM Column June 20th - Pregnancy Pact of Under 16s

I SHOULD say two things before I publish this next piece, firstly it would appear that the pregnancy pact story which was over the news was sensationalised rubbish and the only pact made was between young women who were pregnant who decided to help out each other. Still this is the column I wrote a few weeks ago when the story broke.

Secondly this is the last column I'll be doing for the Echo having been told last week that they no longer require the column due to budgetary constraints. Course that frees me up for writing how I want when I want on the blog without thinking 'I should keep that for the column'. Ah well it was good while it lasted, some two and a half years.

Lastly sorry for posting them all the recent columns at once, but I just wanted to get them up and over with :)

RM Column June 20th - Pregnancy Pact of Under 16s

I was pretty shocked to read recently about a pregnancy pact that has apparently been made between a group of teenagers (17 of them) in an English school.

According to Carolyn Kirk, the Mayor of the town where all this is happening it is because of a “deteriorating socio-economic environment” where the teenagers, who are all younger than 16, think a baby can give them love, filling an empty place in their life or give them status.

In fairness that is just the opinion of just one person but there is probably more than a grain of truth in this.

I mean what other reason would these young people have to get pregnant by a pact, so all their kids will have playmates?

Part of me wonders about stories like this and their origin, rather like the tired old argument that our girls/young women get pregnant to get a house.

It is used as a stick to beat them with and I have to say I despise that argument. I don’t know any mother who got pregnant because it would get them a house.

I am not saying it doesn’t happen of course it does, but I do question the type the type of society we live in where for some of our youngsters this is almost like a career-move, a way to gain independence.

It seems this pact has basis in this, what on earth are those young girls thinking if they believe that having a baby bring love and a fulfilment to their lives.

The town is now talking about raising awareness in contraception, sex education and while that is well and good and something that should be done, it goes much deeper than that.

What is also needed is that these girls need to be constantly told about their worth as individuals, to be encouraged and pushed in school, to have it ingrained in them that being a parent is wonderful at the right time and being under 16 years old is not the right time.

I feel so sad that these young people who should be out and about having fun, growing up, finishing school, are beginning the long and often hard road of parenting.

Certainly my daughter has no doubt brought me more love than I could imagine and in terms of fulfilment I cannot imagine my life without her. While I was not as young as they are, I was young enough and at times bringing her up was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

There are so many implications of this pregnancy pact (if its true), we can probably rightly guess that in most of those cases the girls will be raising their children on their own leaving them wide open to poverty and parenting without real support. It is just that for many having a child so young will present those young parents with more barriers in their lives than they could ever believe.

Course if the grandparents are rich, many of these barriers are easily overcome, sadly that isn’t the case in this instance. Children raised in poverty have a much harder fight on their hands to get anywhere in life, or indeed to have any real quality of life.

My heart goes out to those youngsters and I wish them all the very best in the years ahead. I also urge our young people to think long and hard about pregnancy. If you are going to have sex, use contraception and remember babies are wonderful, hard work and completely life-changing.

1 comment:

Boliath said...

Is this the pact in Gloucester? There was one here recently, Gloucester, MA, I hope there's not another one in the UK - madness. Seems the pact here was a load of media hype but still and all, that many kids getting pregnant at that age has to be a wake up call for educators and parents alike. Why aren't these kids using protection? Why are they hanging out, and having sex, with 24 yr old men? They're ranting and raving about Jamie Lynn Spears and Ashlee Simpson and Juno and shite like that here, seems like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted to me and a nice way to divert everyone's attention from the sky rocketing gasoline prices and more frequent news of lay offs and redundancies, not least Bush giving yet more money to an endless war that nobody supported in the 1st place. What kind of fucked up world are we raising these poor children in?