Assessment of the Effectiveness of Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Strategies in Southwark and Greenwich Essay
Young women from a poor background and/or from areas with higher unemployment rates have a higher probability of becoming teenage mothers. There is a high likelihood that a teenage mother would find a partner with poor qualifications, who is likely to suffer from unemployment. Children of teenage mothers suffer from lower educational attainment, greater risk of economic inactivity, and becoming teenage parents themselves (Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, 2004). Teenage pregnancy could result in a situation with economic and emotional hardships for the teenage mother. Teenage pregnancy is undesirable, and efforts have been made to study teenage pregnancy and strategies have been deployed by the Government in cooperation with various organisations to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy. A study has been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of teenage pregnancy prevention strategies that have been deployed. The study serves to understand approaches that have shown the most promise, and that could be deployed in areas with high teenage pregnancies.
The study aims to understand issues surrounding teenage pregnancy, and solutions that have been deployed. The specific objective of the study is to answer the question whether strategies deployed for reduction of teenage pregnancy have been effective.
Review of Literature
Arthur (1996), a single parent at the age of 16, wrote “Surviving Teen Pregnancy: Your Choices, Dreams, and Decisions” to connect with single mothers, who were young, struggling with self-esteem, identity, and financial issues to enable them set goals, keep control over their lives, and not forget to aspire and fulfil their own dreams. A common link between interviewees in a study conducted by Coles, Coles & Coles (1997) was distrust between males and females, lack of success in school, and a reason to end schooling. Warren and Githens (1997) wrote “Books, Babies and School-Age Parents: How to Teach Pregnant and Parenting Teens to Succeed,” from an educator’s perspective for successful teen parenting programs.
Inequalities displayed among teenage mothers, include teenage pregnancy being strongly associated with social class; areas of deprivation; caused problems for mother and child; teenage mothers were unlikely to finish education, unlikely to find a good job, and were more likely to bring up her child alone and in poor conditions. Infant mortality rates in babies born to teenage mothers were 60 percent higher (Communities and Local Government, 2005).
The government has made a coordinated attempt to tackle the causes and consequences of teenage pregnancy. Targets of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy (the Strategy) are to reduce the under-18 conception rate by half by 2010, establish a downward trend in under-16 rate, and increase participation of teenage parents in education, training or employment to 60 percent by 2010 for reduction of long-term social exclusion risk. Key factors for the reduction of teenage pregnancy include engagement of delivery partners, selection of senior champion, effective sexual health advice service, education on prioritisation of sex and relationships, focus on targeted interventions, training for partner organisations, well resourced youth services. Action for improving outcomes include poor child outcomes, poor emotional health and well-being experienced by teenage mothers, teenage parents’ poor economic well being (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007).
The Strategy has four components including, a media awareness campaign at the national level by the use of independent radio and teenage magazines, national and local coordination across relevant statutory and voluntary agencies by joined up action, improving sex and relationships education and access to contraception and sexual health services, and provision of support for teenage parents (Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Evaluation Research Team, 2005).
The study has been conducted in three parts. The first part was a study of teenage pregnancy, based on a review of books and other available literature on the subject to understand issues surrounding teenage pregnancy. The second part of the study was a study of the Government’s the Strategy, and efforts specific to London Boroughs of Southwark and Greenwich. Data published by the Office of National Statistics were used for the study. The third part of the study was based on findings of a focus group. Teens and Toddlers is a focus group that has been active in Southwark and Greenwich. The study has been based on an understanding of efforts made by the focus group in the reduction of teenage pregnancy, and reported outcomes. Data for Southwark and Greenwich has been examined to answer the research question of whether strategies deployed for the prevention of teenage pregnancies have been effective.
Findings and Discussion
The Strategy was implemented in 1998. The Strategy has been well received, and has been able to secure engagement of policy makers and continued funding. Joint working has been achieved in areas not evident previously. School based sex and relationships education and contraceptive services has been affirmed to be important by young people, including those from deprived areas. It has been observed that further effort is required to enable pregnant teenagers to remain in education before childbirth. There is a need for provision of adequate childcare for allowing young mothers to return to work or education. According to national tracking survey, 29 percent young women and 28 percent young men aged 16-21 reported sexual intercourse under the age of 16. 84 percent women and 83 percent men used contraception. However, number of young people obtaining contraceptive before first sexual intercourse has decreased over time (Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Evaluation Research Team, 2005).
In the years from 2000-2007, there were 38,699, 38,461, 39,350, 39,553, 39,593, 39,804, 39,170 and 40,298 teenage pregnancies respectively in England. Over the 10 year period from 1998-2007, a reduction of 10.7 percent has been achieved. The corresponding numbers for London were 6041, 6210, 6512, 6467, 6235, 5863, 5709, and 5686 respectively. Over the10 year period from 1998-2007, a reduction of 10.7 has been achieved. The corresponding numbers for Southwark were 314, 335, 356, 343, 285, 291, and 292 respectively. Over the 10 year period from 1998-2007, a reduction of 12.6 percent has been achieved. The corresponding numbers for Greenwich were 222, 272, 248, 280, 261, 263, 227, and 254 respectively. Over the 10 year period from 1998-2007, an increase of 4.2 percent was observed (Office of National Statistics, 2009).
The effectiveness of the Teens and Toddlers program in several London Boroughs has been evaluated in the period from September 2007 to February 2008. A report has been prepared based on differences between participants starting and finishing questionnaires; teenager’s view of Teens and Toddlers programme; interviews with participants in Teens and Toddlers; case studies; group attendance; feedback from nurseries and brief conclusions. It was concluded that several positive effects have been achieved, and clearly the program was making a difference to teenagers. Significant positive effects were observed based on questionnaires completed before and after the program, especially perceptions of realities of parenthood and the right age to have children. Evaluation reports were available for Southwark and Greenwich (Cater, 2009).
Whitehead (2009) studied the association between teen-age pregnancy and inter-generational factors, and found the following thematic factors: reflection, peer group pressure and intergenerational factors. Complexities of intergenerational teenage pregnancy could be addressed by midwives working collaboratively with other health, social and educational colleagues. Parkes et al. (2009) found that the use of oral contraceptives may be less efficient than condoms for the prevention of pregnancy in teenagers, thus increasing vulnerability to unintended pregnancy, and have suggested that alternative contraceptive strategies should be considered.
Teenage pregnancy could occur in young women from a poor background and/or from areas with higher unemployment rates. Teenage mothers were unlikely to finish education, unlikely to find a good job, and were more likely to bring up her child alone and in poor conditions. Thematic factors, including reflection, peer group pressure and intergenerational factors have been associated with teenage pregnancy. Oral contraceptives may be less efficient than condoms for the prevention of pregnancy in teenagers, and alternative methods should be sought. The Strategy launched by the Government includes, a media awareness campaign at the national level, national and local coordination across relevant statutory and voluntary agencies, improving sex and relationships education and access to contraception and sexual health services, and provision of support for teenage parents. Teens and Toddlers is an innovative and practical program with the aim of preventing pregnancy, which works with at risk teenagers. In the period from 1998-2007, a reduction in underage conceptions of 10.7 percent has been achieved in London and England. For the same period, a reduction of 12.6 percent was achieved for Southwark and an increase in 4.2 percent has been observed for Greenwich. Significant positive effects were observed based on questionnaires completed before and after the program in Southwark and Greenwich, especially perceptions of realities of parenthood and the right age to have children. Based on the data and reports, it can be concluded that strategies that have been deployed for the prevention of teenage pregnancies have been effective in improving perceptions of parenthood and therefore the reduction of teenage pregnancies.
Teens and Toddlers is a focus group; an innovative and practical program with the aim of preventing pregnancy. The group includes at risk teenagers who work with pre-school children to develop an appreciation of the responsibility and hard work of child rearing. The program fosters an awareness of the realities of early parenting. The program initially developed in US, is now running in several London Boroughs. In a 12 week intensive course, teenagers spend two afternoons per week in a nursery, and are paired with a toddler 3-5 years old. This is followed by group sessions that focus on the impact of teenage pregnancy and prevention methods. The sessions include a curriculum on child development, parenting skills, management of anger, sexuality and relationships, and one-to-ne coaching for participants at risk. The program has several objectives including, educating teenagers about the responsibilities involved in caring for a child for conveying the importance and value of postponing pregnancy, help develop alternative goals to parenthood by choice of satisfying work and relationships, and provide knowledge to enable them to prevent pregnancy and protect sexual health (Whitmore, 2009).
Participants include boys and girls, and are selected based on risk factors for teenage pregnancy. Risk factors include poverty and social exclusion, educational and behavioural problems, being in care experience, maternal teenage parenthood, mental health problems, sexual abuse, and involvement in crime. Southwark and Greenwich are London Boroughs where Teens and Toddlers has been working with ethnically diverse teenagers. Participants have included students with educational behaviour difficulty, special needs schools, asylum seekers, and newly located foreign nationals. Also, pregnant teens and group of teenage mothers have participated to learn about child development and parenting skills. In a research of 200 graduates of Teens and Toddlers, a survey of respondents attitudes revealed that there was no pregnancy in the 16-18 age group, and one pregnancy in the over 18 age group. The results have been considered very positive, based on the very high risk nature of participants. The feedback about the program has been very positive, and the value of the program was rated very high. Parents have been kept informed and encouraged to participate in graduation ceremonies. The success of the program has enabled the possibility of expanding it to a national project. The program has been funded by various authorities, such as Single Regeneration Budget (SRB6), Vulnerable Children Grant, Enterprise Action Zone (EAZ), Early Years, and Teenage Pregnancy Local Implementation Grant (Whitmore, 2009).
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