A recent report showed that Haringey has the fourth highest teenage pregnancy rate in London. So I met up with the borough’s dedicated teenage pregnancy team to find out what is being done to tackle the issue.
At the meeting were representatives from Haringey Council and the local health service who told me about their various initiatives to spread information and target prevention work with particularly vulnerable teenagers.
They are working closely with local schools to improve sex and relationship education, and to help identify groups of young people at risk. The team also uses a special dedicated website to help schools and parents learn how to reach out and talk to young people about the relationships and safe sex. There are also plans to set up special vending machines to give young people across the borough access to contraceptives and Chlamydia testing kits without having to approach an adult. To check out the website go to: http://www.ruthinking.co.uk/
There wasn’t much said about educating the boys – which has to be as much part of the answer as the rest of the program. However, there clearly are genuine efforts being made to tackle this issue – the answer to which ultimately must be about aspirations so that young girls don’t see falling pregnant in their teens as the answer to life.
I am meeting some of the young girls in a scheme that sees them volunteer in a nursery with a support team discussion after each session as to their thoughts and feelings. The meeting is scheduled for later this month. The idea behind that is a dose of reality as to what it is really like spending time with babies and toddlers – not all sweetness and light!
You can also watch it on YouTube here.
Not a single mention of the importance parents play in delaying teen pregnancy. Study, after study after study show girls with fathers are far less likely to become pregnant at a young age.
To fail to recognise such an issue is is at the root of the problem is basically just fiddling while Rome burns. You’ll never solve such a problem if you don’t tackle the root causes.
I suggest you have a chat with Roela, as you haven’t quite take the key points on board yet. Shame children can’t be MPs really, she’d certainly get my vote.
You’ve been very quiet on the childcare tax break issue – one of the few govt. policies that help women with children into the workplace.
Google ‘Dads and Doughnuts’ with my name and you will see some of my proposals on exactly that point – the need for fathers to be included. I also raise the issue of the lack of attention to boys education in my post. The program itself, as also mentioned in the post, includes parents. And as you rightly point out – I chose Roela’s submission because it goes to the heart of a great challenge in our society. However, tax breaks for marriage aren’t the answer. And research equally shows that it is stability after break up that is one of the most important factors in a child’s well-being. Stability is obviously threatened by the emotional upheaval – but also the financial position that mostly women are left in by deserting partners or husbands is also critical. So between absent fathers and poverty – our children suffer dreadfully. But what are your suggestions for encouraging men to keep engaged with their children and take life-long responsibility for them – whether they were married, partners – or just passing through? Psychiatrists will tell you that the most important thing after a family break down is for fathers to stay engaged and to always still be there for their children.
Hmmm not had Lynne ask for proposals before.
To me one problem seems to be how everyone sees things in absolute terms. On one side you’ve got very high profile people blaming fathers for supposedly abandoning mothers (yourself, Barrack Obama etc), and on the other side you’ve got those blaming the awful family courts, and anti-male government polices etc, combined with issues such as deliberate parental alienation by unpleasant mothers, or mothers deliberately attacking fathers in other ways.
Whilst is clearly true there are incredible injustices caused by the government and many, many quite awful mothers and useless fathers out there, (none of which will ever be decent parents), it’s wrong to view everything as so absolute. Cases of evil mothers or fathers who just don’t care are still the exception and in reality most of the reasons for fatherlessness are a complex combination of factors with all parties equally culcapble.
I.e. a father who likes his kids but at the same time is far from perfect and doesn’t appreciate his reponsibilites and faisl to understand how important he is to his kids. He’s perhaps struggling with a child support payments which have been set too high, and thus he’s slowly descending into poverty or missing payments.
On top of this you’ll then have the mother giving him a hard time. She’s perhaps angry about him not paying all the child support he supposedly owes and can’t really cope bringing up the kids on her own. As a result she starts alienating the children from their father saying how useless he is (both to his face and when he;s not there) and making it hard for him to see them.
All the above would be bad enough, but it’s then compounded by the constant message from the government/courts/authorites/media/society that children are the property of the mother, that men don’t deserve paternity leave, are not to be trusted with children and that they’re only purpose is to pay child support.
Ultimately the only real solution to the problem is that of equal parenting. I.e the chidl spends half the time with one parent then half with the other. This is standard practice in so many other more advanced countries and as a result amny of the issues surrounding family breakdown in the Uk barely even exist there.
– No more lengthy, divisive, expensive and combative child custody battles with the winner takes all scenario. (usually the mother or occasionally a wealthy father).
– No more child support shenanigans and all the hassle, arguments and administrative incompetence that goes with it (each parent would have equal time and responsibility for the child thus neither would owe the other a penny).
– An assumption that fathers should actually look after their children rather than be a walking wallet – i.e. the more unpleasant mothers won’t be able to snare men in order use the child as a pay cheque for 18 years, correspondingly the rich/lazy fathers won’t be able to buy their way out of their responsibilities.
– The custodial parent would no longer be able to block fathers form seeing their children.
– Less parental alienation and abuse. I.e. the children won’t be with one parent all the time so any child abuse will be spotted by the other parent. Similarly mothers wouldn’t be able to brainwash the children into hating the father so easily.
– No overwhelmed mothers expected to bring up the whole family on their own.
– Ultimately there would be a change in the way society view fahter/mothers, and an appreciation thatboth are equally responsible and equally important when bringing up children.