Teenage parents


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Teenage parents

  1. 1. Where Next ForTeenage Parents? Judy Corlyon The Tavistock Institute University of Greenwich 25th April 2012
  2. 2. The presentation• Teenage parents: who are they?• Problems they face• Policies – old and new – which affect them• Groundhog Day
  3. 3. How many pregnant young women?Conceptions in England and Wales 2010• 34,633 conceptions to under-18s 49.9% led to abortions• 6,674 conceptions to under 16s 62.5% led to abortions
  4. 4. Who becomes pregnant?Predominantly those who:• Dislike school – Boring, repetitive, irrelevant, unsupportive• Are unhappy and/or hard up – Family conflict/breakdown, violence, time in care• Have limited expectations – parenthood preferable to school or low-paid job, unaware of alternatives• Live where early parenthood is the norm
  5. 5. How many mothers?Births in England and Wales 2010• 22,842 to 18s and under 610 within marriage or civil partnership• 3,896 to 16s and under (1,047 under 16) 38 within marriage or civil partnership• Total: 723,165 births. Average age of mother having first child is 29-30
  6. 6. How many fathers?• Even more invisible than young mothers in policy, practice and research• Information only if included on birth registration + sparse. In 2010:• 10,093 registered to parents both under 20• But 16, 376 registered with mother under 20 and father 20-24• Very similar to young mothers, but harder to engage and often ignored
  7. 7. CharacteristicsTypically:• No confidence, low self-esteem, high levels of insecurity and anxiety• Desire for secure and loving relationships• Baby as recipient and donor of love• But not all have unhappy childhoods• Or have accidental pregnancies
  8. 8. Risks• Education and employment• Health and well-being• Housing• Finance• Relationships• Parenting
  9. 9. Education and employment• About 70% NEET• In spite of sometimes good intentions: – Previous experience of education poor – Re-integration into school a problem – Specialist schooling provision patchy – Employment limited – Childcare unavailable/unaffordable/unsuitable• Need flexibility
  10. 10. Care to Learn• Help with the cost of childcare and associated travel for teenage parents to continue education• Up to £160 a week (£175 in London boroughs) per child• Paid direct to the childcare provider – must be registered with Ofsted• But not Grandma – unless she’s registered with Ofsted, lives apart from the child and cares for other children
  11. 11. Health and Well-being• Late take up of antenatal services• Low birth-weight babies + prone to illness• Incomplete immunisations• More A&E visits with children• Likely emotional and behavioural problems• Mother’s depression ↔ tension, deprivation, social exclusion, lack of confidence
  12. 12. Housing• With family or relatives – Support, but tensions, stress & overcrowding• Hostels/ B&B (often for care leavers) – Unsuitable and lacking support• Independent housing with support (recommended in Teenage Pregnancy Strategy) – Can be beneficial but regimented and no fathers• LA or private housing – likely to be small, low-quality, unsafe & in poorer areas →isolation & loneliness• Unlikely to lead to home-ownership later in life
  13. 13. Finances• Intergenerational poverty• Limited education → limited employment• Lack of knowledge re benefit entitlement• Difficulty negotiating the system• Reliance on family• Unused to budgeting• Financial skills of economic genius required
  14. 14. What does extra money mean ?• ‘Having a bit of money means I can do something extra with them (the children) – go to a farm or go swimming – at the end of the week when the money (from benefits) has run out.’• ‘It’s only £20 but it’s a day out for myself and my son. We don’t get treats otherwise.’
  15. 15. Poverty2009-10:• 2.6 million children living in poverty (BHC)• 3.8 million (AHC)• Significantly lower than when previous government took office –most notably for children in workless 1-parent families• Mainly from increase in benefits(16%, £49 pw)• But risk still remains higher for these children• Parents’ employment / more education are ways out
  16. 16. RelationshipsSupportive family and partner lead to better outcomesBut common for young parents are:• Breakdown of partner relationship – no financial support and no contact for child ‘Sometimes I think I’ll need two prams…’• Stressful family relationships pre-and post- pregnancy• No support or parenting role models
  17. 17. Parenting• ‘Good’ parenting according to Baumrind = Authoritative parenting Parents are demanding but also responsive vsa) Permissive: more responsive than demandingb) Authoritarian: demanding, not responsive• Parents with lower incomes tend to use authoritarian• Positive results from targeted individual and group-based programmes for young parents• But little rigorous evaluation
  18. 18. Horse or Cart?• Growing realisation that disadvantage and social exclusion are a cause and a consequence of teenage pregnancy and parenthood• Fatalistic acceptance of whatever …• ‘I just look to the present and I just take the future as it comes, cos I find you just don’t know what to expect … What’s the point of planning your future? Just take the future as it comes, like.’ (Female)• ‘If they get pregnant, they get pregnant – you know what I mean.’ (Male)
  19. 19. Not all negative• Early parenthood can be positive – purpose to lives, catalyst for change, opportunity to defy negative stereotypes: ‘When I was leaving to go to the special school I said I would come back and she (teacher) said “I bet you won’t – they all say that and they don’t come back.” So I was determined, just to show her. And I got seven GCSEs and she was ever so nice to me after that.’
  20. 20. What helps• Care to Learn and EMA• Teenage pregnancy co-ordinators: in LAs to provide information, advice and support• Sure Start Plus: launched 2001 through Teenage Pregnancy Strategy – targeted support for young mothers in 35 LAs with high rates of pregnancy – Positive links to health, well-being, money, housing, relationships, engagement with young fathers• Family Nurse Partnerships: borrowed from US. Specialist nurses support young 1st-time mothers – Research indicates a real difference to life chances of most disadvantaged
  21. 21. New GovernmentSarah Teather (Minister of State for Children and Families) March 2012, in joint ministerial message to LA teenage pregnancy co-ordinators: It is encouraging that local areas continue to include teenage parents in their efforts to improve support for vulnerable families through maternity and expanded health visitor services, children’s centres and Family Nurse Partnership. We know you help teenage parents re-engage with education or work-based learning, for example through the new bursary scheme and Care to Learn scheme of support with childcare costs.
  22. 22. What have they done?Reduced public spending which affects:• Sure Start Children’s Centres (some closing + payment by results)• 76 LAs losing teenage pregnancy co-ordinator• Care to Learn (under review -‘to ensure that support reaches those who most need it.’)Focus now is on:• Relationship support• Improving parental skills – Pilot for free classes for parents of under-fives• More free child care/early education (15 hours)
  23. 23. Welfare2010 June Budget & October Spending Review:Freeze in Child Benefit, reductions in Housing Benefit, changes to Working Tax CreditInstead: Universal Credit – reduces rate at which benefits withdrawn as earnings increaseParents with youngest child aged 5 move from income support to JSA.Estimated 300,000 more children in poverty by 2013-14
  24. 24. Child PovertyChild Poverty Strategy 2011 aim:To reduce the risk of transmitted deprivation‘About far more than income’ → ancillary indicatorsLarge increases in benefits and tax credits goneFocus on:• promoting employment• improving early childhood development• reducing gap in educational attainment
  25. 25. What does poverty (not) mean for children?• 1 week’s holiday a year away from home with the family• Swimming at least once a month• A hobby or leisure activity• Friends round for tea or a snack once a fortnight• Not sharing a bedroom with a sibling of the opposite sex if 10+• Leisure equipment (e.g. sports equipment or bicycle)• Celebrations on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other religious festivals
  26. 26. What does it (not) mean for parents?• Home adequately warm and in decent state of repair• Yearly 1-week holiday away, not with relatives• Replacing worn out furniture & electrical goods• A small amount of money to spend on self• Regular savings (of £10 a month) for rainy days or retirement• Friends or family for a drink/meal once a month• Home contents insurance• A hobby or leisure activity
  27. 27. What does it mean for parenting?• Poor parents ≠ poor parenting but does = stress• Materially disadvantaged parents face more stress than affluent parents• It causes them to be depressed and irritable• This affects their parenting and they are more likely to be harsh and inconsistent• Typically has negative effect on outcomes for children
  28. 28. Stress• Waylen and Stewart Brown (2008): study of parents of young children in different social and cultural groups• Cumulative ill-effect on parenting of poor health, lack of social support and financial hardship• Deterioration in finances led to reduction in parenting score• But more money alone was not the answer• Most influential was improvement in mother’s mental and physical health
  29. 29. Environment• Moving to a near-poor/non-poor area improved mothers’ mental health + children less depressed and anxious (Leventhal and Brooks-Gunn 2003: US)• UK study in 4 neighbourhoods (3 deprived): In deprived areas – mothers with stress, children with behavioural problems In affluent area – less stress, more progressive parental views (Barnes 2007: UK)
  30. 30. Environment• …parenting in poor environments is a more risky business than parenting elsewhere. (Ghate and Hazel 2002)• But effect on outcomes is not significant: parents’ background, child’s personality and family dynamics are more important
  31. 31. Culture of Poverty• Ermisch et al (2001): growing up in poor families points to lower educational expectations, less likelihood of employment and propensity for early motherhood• Yaqub (2002): people’s class, education and health are similar to their parents’. But these can be counteracted (e.g. by resilience)
  32. 32. Culture of Poverty• Now a derogatory term – that poor people have a different culture from the middle classes: – low educational expectations for their children – replication of their own (harsh) parenting experiences – no regard for individual attainment – no commitment to the labour force• Thus inter-generational poverty creates barriers to upward mobility• Is changing attitudes/parenting styles the answer?• Or do affluent parents use their advantages to ensure power and privilege for their children?
  33. 33. 1972Sir Keith Joseph, then Secretary of State forSocial Services, drew attention to the fact that inBritain since the Second World War there hadbeen a conspicuous persistence of deprivationand maladjustment. It seemed to him that socialproblems tended to recur in successivegenerations of the same families – to form acycle of deprivation. Subsequently the DHSS,through the SSRC, made available a sum ofmoney for a programme of research into thewhole problem. (Cover for book on transmitteddeprivation, publ 1983)
  34. 34. 1998… there is huge scope for many, if not most,individuals to escape from the patterns andtendencies (of transmitted deprivation). Animportant area for further research is to examinemore closely the characteristics of individualswho escape… (Hobcraft)
  35. 35. And finallySarah Teather, March 2012This Government remains committed toreducing rates of teenage pregnancy stillfurther and improving outcomes for youngparents and their children. This is central toour aim to reduce inter-generational povertyand inequalities.
  36. 36. Contact Judy Corlyon Tavistock Insitutej.corlyon@tavinstitute.org www.tavinstitute.org