Posted Wednesday, 30 September 2009 at 12:13
How can anyone who hasn't been there understand what it is like to be a sixteen year old child, alone, with a baby to care for and a home to run?
The repost for this question from the women on our street in Liverpool would have been, 'if you’re old enough to get pregnant your tough enough to face the consequences'.
Only, life isn't like that really is it? I don't have enough fingers and toes on which to list the friends and relatives who are single mums.
Some of these were incarcerated into one of Liverpool’s many 'unmarried mothers homes', the majority of which were run by nuns.
The others’ offspring were kindly taken in and assimilated into an extended family structure.
But for the most part, the majority struggled and faced the remainder of their young lives on benefits, slippinginto a life devoid of hope or aspiration and often went on to have a number of partners and children.
This cycle continues and today gathers momentum as the teenage pregnancy rates continue to rise ever more alarmingly.
I liked what Gordon Brown had to say, but of course, many of us know he's said the same thing wrapped up in different words twice before - and we are still waiting.
I like the idea that we can introduce a structure that will capture 16 and 17 year old girls and teach them parenting skills, help them to acquire the knowledge which will enable them to run a home, manage a budget, cook meals, feed and nurture a baby and learn to value and respect themselves. A structure that will show them a pathway back to independence and, most importantly, assist them in becoming aware of the importance of preventing pregnancy and making empowered decisions which will benefit their lives and future. And of course the life of their young baby.
Maybe that can happen in a shared housing scheme?
The cause and effect of teenage pregnancy is complex and multi layered.
Some of the answers are unpopular and involve speaking the unspeakable.
Some are obvious and practical, however, they all need to be taken and introduced together as one holistic approach in order to have an effect which will benefit society and the young girls themselves.
And let's hear it for the boys too. Girls don't become pregnant all by themselves. Any scheme should pay equal attention to the boys; they must be made to face up to the cause and effect of their actions also.
The sad fact is that we all know, and we have the two previous announcements to prove it, that Labour won't deliver or make even the slightest impact into the area of teenage pregnancy and its associated problems. Its own political ideology prevents it even addressing some of the tougher decisions and without them, there can be no impact.
In fact, it could be said that Labour’s policy to provide sex education to children as young as five will far outweigh any benefits, in terms of shared housing for pregnant teenagers, as the rate of pregnancy is surely set to rise.
And anyway, what kind of government is it that thinks it’s right to provide lessons to13 year old girls on how to place a condom on a banana and not realise that the subliminal message is 'now go and try that yourself'? And then has the audacity to announce a policy to deal with the consequences?
I can't criticise the sentiment but I can hope that we get rid of this government as soon as possible so that some intellect and common sense can be applied to this issue. Maybe then we will see a policy announced one day by David Cameron that we can believe in and know will make a real difference to the young girls who, at the moment, are home alone wondering what on earth has happened to them.
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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