Monday, February 16, 2009

Babies having babies

A lot has been written over the last few days about the baby born to a fifteen year old mother and allegedly fathered by a thirteen year old. Most people, quite rightly, find the whole scenario rather shocking.

Teenage pregnancy is nothing new of course. I can well remember the scandal in the very small town where I grew up, when one of my classmates dropped out of school at fifteen to have a baby. The UK currently has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Western Europe, so something is going wrong somewhere.

What I have found so scary about this particular case is that the girl's parents apparently allowed boys to sleep with her, in their home, when she was clearly legally under age. Not just one, but allegedly at least three.

Now we can't always control what our teenagers are doing outside the house, but we can within our own walls. I don't claim to be a perfect parent, indeed I doubt that one exists. But parents need to know how to set and enforce boundaries, otherwise how else do kids learn to be responsible members of society?

There are many parenting courses available, in fact before Christmas I attended one on parenting teenagers, run by a local voluntary organisation. The sad thing was that everyone who attended the course was in fact already a good parent, simply striving to be even better. The sort of parents who really need such help wouldn't attend, however much social workers or other agencies refer them.

Next week I am going to be speaking to parents on a course based around understanding autism. The same thing applies, the parents who attend the course are the good ones, who want to learn how to understand and help their child. But what about the others, and how might a young teenager cope with a child with autism?


HelenMWalters said...

It's hard to know where to start with this one isn't it? Parenting classes are a great idea, but I think you're right that they're probably largely preaching to the converted.

Anonymous said...

Cathy, what a very very good question. I was watching Matthew Wright's show this morning and they were talking about this subject asking how it can be prevented. Perhaps by giving the children, or young teenagers, something to do instead of letting them think about sex.

And as I watched the program, I thought about the very same thing you have mentioned here - what would happen if that child born to these desperately young kids was to develop autism, or indeed any such condition warranting what we, as parents of special needs children, are having to go through. You have to wonder whether there would be much hope for the little mite. Personally, I doubt it.

CJ xx

Cathy said...

The more I hear of the story the more I despair. I think both the teenagers and their parents need educating, but it is a wider issue than that too.

CJ, I'm not saying that no teenager would be able to cope with a disabled child, I know some older teenagers can and do with family support. But a 15 year old? I'm not so sure and just imagine what the media would make of it all.