Earlier this year, Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes made a speech urging Councils and Health bodies to “target” Black Caribbean girls in a bid to drive down teenage pregnancy. But Councillor Daniel Bessong, Chair of Brent’s Black & Minority Ethnic Consultative Forum, feels the Government and Councils should be careful in using this less than positive approach of advocating that this state of affairs is fuelled by BME teenagers. He wants to know if residents really feel there needs to be a crackdown of this type, as if having children is unsocial.
Many teenage parents – some of whom are in their late teens, mature, and with ten GCSE’s and 2 ‘AS’ Levels to their name- cannot be seen as an unaware generation of adolescents that needs lecturing to. To some young mothers, becoming a parent is a life choice. In the other hand, Brent has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates, and abortion rates in the area are particularly alarming, with over half of teenage pregnancies terminated.
Councillor Bessong has therefore asked the BME Forum to host a discussion and debate on the issues on Wednesday 18th October at 7:30pm at Copland School, Cecil Avenue, Wembley.
Cllr Bessong says: “The Government often talk about tackling teenage pregnancy in a rather stigmatising way. But there’s little evidence that those who go on to bring up their babies are seen as a problem in society, or that it’s a specific Black or Ethnic minority issue. What we do find is that many young women feel they have no choice but to terminate, because support is not there or cultural or family pressure is placed on them.”
” The current approach also confuses teenage pregnancy with underage pregnancy. In fact, out of 149 known teenage mothers in Brent last year, only 12 were aged 15 or 16, while 39 were 18-year-olds and 82 were aged 19. So it’s questionable if the targeting is right as most of these parents are adults in the eyes of the law, not under-age at all.”
” I urge people to have their say on this, so we can openly debate these important issues. I’d especially like to invite young parents to attend the meeting to share their experiences and ideas, as this will be key to our getting the approach right in Brent.”