Teenagers Positive About Parenting
A report from the University of Sheffield on teenage parenting among ethnic minority groups has shown that many young parents have positive experiences raising their children. A survey showed that many young mothers feel an increased sense of maturity after giving birth and that most teenage parents have clear career and educational goals which are not obstructed by parenting. However, the research also found that many of the services used by young parents from ethnic minority groups frequently fail to accommodate the needs of different communities and ethnic groups.
The research was conducted via a survey of young parents from ethnic minority groups in Sheffield, Bradford, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. The survey helped researchers to establish the views and experiences of young mothers and fathers, their parents, and local service providers. The report's findings challenge the popular opinion of teenage parenting as a negative experience, and found that there are often many positive dimensions to early parenthood.
Despite this, the report found that existing services frequently fail to take into consideration the specific needs of young parents from ethnic minority groups. The authors argue that a one-size-fits-all approach to providing advice, support and health care to young parents is much less effective than locally devised strategies that are more responsive to the specific needs of certain ethnic groups. The report points out that attitudes to motherhood, contraception and childcare often vary between different ethnic groups, and that services may need to be adapted for individual cases.
Another key finding is that for teenage parents, many services such as housing or benefit support can be difficult to negotiate, leading to stress, hardship and deprivation for young service users and their children. In many cases young parents reported negative experiences of hospital-based maternity care, often based on their age. Although the Sure-Start initiative was noted for its success, the report highlights the importance of ensuring the programme remains sustainable and available to all young parents that need it.
Gina Higginbottom, who co-authored the report said: "It is important to realise that early parenthood is not synonymous with poor or bad parenting but that young people from different ethnic backgrounds often require different types of support. To effectively deal with teenage parenting, it is vital that service provision is flexible and able to accommodate different cultural and ethnic traditions."
The report, "An Exploration of the Teenage Parenting Experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic Young People in England" was written by Gina Higginbottom, Nigel Mathers, Peter Marsh, Mavis Kirkham and Jenny Owen from the University of Sheffield.