This report discusses the importance of some aspects of the impact of teenage pregnancy in Northern Ireland in terms of accessing support services. It has been compiled from the results of a questionnaire completed by a small sample of individuals who have experienced this situation either from personal experience or through their professional contacts, and also from internet research and leaflets.
The word “restriction” of the report allows for only brief acknowledgement of the issues and is not a comprehensive study however from the questionnaires completed, there was a clear indication that regardless of whether It was the managers themselves or their parents or peers, support was a vital element in ensuring positive outcomes for all. The results from my survey showed that family support is the main service needed, followed by educational support.
Having experienced teenage pregnancy when sixteen years old, I have chosen to study some of the current support services available for pregnant teenagers In Northern Ireland and explore options available to the young parents in terms of their health, education and their emotional wellbeing. This report will consider the supports available from the beginning of the pregnancy and will document current overspent statistics not only In relation to the number of teenage pregnancies, but also the number of young parents using these services through pregnancy, birth and their baby’s early years.
Given the Increasing number of teenage pregnancies in Northern Ireland, relevant Information was readily available from government websites and from health professionals with whom I made contact. METHOD Drawing on my own experiences, I devised a short questionnaire which I circulated to ten people, male and female, parent and teacher, health and social work professionals, In an effort to demonstrate the wider Impact of a teenage pregnancy ND how supported they felt through their life changing event.
This Is an extremely small sample of the local population however It clearly showed that the discovery of a life. The answer to the availability/accessibility of services question indicated that strong efforts have been made to raise awareness amongst teenagers and their families not only of how many support services are available, but also how significant an issue teenage pregnancy in Northern Ireland really is. When developing the questionnaire, consideration was given to those areas I wished to explore so the questions asked were specific to support, emotions and impact.
RESULTS All questionnaires were returned completed. It was obvious from the answers provided and discussions with the individuals, that the impact of the teenage pregnancy was significant across a wide range of individuals and initially caused some level of difficulty amongst families. Sadness and confusion seemed to be present in all cases and concern with regard to the young girl’s future in terms of education and security appeared to be significant issues for parents and teachers alike. I have shown my results in a bar graph below.
Note that 1 of them was a social workers point of view and is therefore excluded from he results. DISCUSSION briefing state “In 1998, in Northern Ireland there were approximately 1700 births to teenage mothers, 202 of these were to young women aged 16 or under. ” In Northern Ireland today, the rate of teenage pregnancies is still high but according to Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISEI 23rd September 2013) “this rate has fallen except in areas of high deprivation, in particular Belfast, where the rate is 1. Times higher than the rest of Northern Ireland”. Given that these statistics show a significant number of teenagers requiring services, it is vital that all those involved re aware of not only the services available, but also how to access them as they need them. This research shows that room the questionnaires returned, it is obvious that the majority of people found education services to be the least supportive at a time when fear and uncertainty with regard to the future, was at its highest.
While a pregnancy does cause disruption for the young girl, it is not a life long illness or debilitation and life does carry on post birth. For this reason, it is vital that educational support is priorities and arrangements made to enable any pregnant manager to continue to attend school and participate in the curriculum for as long as possible, ensuring that she can keep up to date with class developments and study. It is also important that she is able to continue to access peer support, so that on an emotional level, she knows there is someone there to talk to on days when she is feeling vulnerable.
The children’s charity, Barnyard’s have a support project known as SAM – School Age Mothers – and this is now widely used by a significant number of teenagers and has been instrumental in enabling young girls to return to academic duty and complete their school education successfully. This service is easily accessible through Gaps, ante-natal clinics and schools. Further exploration of this subject or progressing the theme in another report, would enable some research into how these young girls progressed through education, I. E. , did they achieve Geese’s, A Levels, and Degrees?
Regardless of education levels achieved, it seems that all of those involved in the questionnaire felt that this was an extremely important issue and clearly an area in which the pregnant teenager requires accessible and appropriate support. While the majority of the questionnaires showed that none of the teenagers families were initially positive about the pregnancy, this seemed to quickly change and Family Support was highlighted by most as being a vital element in the teenager’s life to help her through any difficulties she was experiencing.
It is easy to understand why a parent – either of the young mother or father – would be upset, angry, fearful, however for all of the teenagers in this survey, family support became readily available once those normal reactions subsided and people got on with day to day life while making the necessary changes to support the teenager. Although the focus tends to be on the young girl in this situation, consideration should also be given to the father to be and to all grandparents to be.
Emotions can run very high at times and blame can be unfairly apportioned which does nothing to assist the young couple in managing the dilemma in which they find themselves. However as stated, once these negative feelings subside, generally more positive feelings develop and family support is more readily available. In realizing that it is not only the girl and her family who are impacted by the pregnancy, some agencies maintain relationships between all so that he can participate in the life of his child.
Services such as Family Nurse Partnership which was developed in the USA thirty years ago, has now been implemented in the I-J. This service remains involved with the young parents from pregnancy through to their child’s second birthday and provides practical and emotional support through home visiting, classes and ongoing advice on issues such as housing, benefits and education. (NASH leaflet, May 09) “l did not expect to be involved. I thought it would be more for my girlfriend’s benefit but hen I turned up she said she would help me as well.
Eve learned about being a parent and that’s helped a lot” this was quoted by a young teenage dad involved in Family Nurse Partnership and personally I believe its show that fathers also need a lot of help and support to. Again this service can be accessed through Gaps, ante- natal clinics and social services. One aspect of the questionnaire which was not surprising was that few pregnant teenagers remain in the relationship with the father of their child and (NAIRA, 8th May 2013) “43% of babies born in Northern Ireland in 2012 were born to unmarried parents”.