Friday 6 March 2009

If you're a teenage mum, who can you ask for help?

I would guess, if you're a teenage mum living in Glasgow South, Tom Harris MP is certainly not who you're going to go to for a sympathetic listening ear. The outburst on his blog has attracted a lot of media interest from across the left, right and religious spectrum.

I wouldn't deny that there's a problem in society when young teenagers find themselves having sex and young girls end up pregnant. Dealing with unexpected and unwanted pregnancy isn't a situation any of us would want to find ourselves in. Whatever choice teenage mums have to make, that choice is never going to be easy, and they will live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of their lives. If there is no commitment from their partner, or support from their parents, that decision has to be made alone.

Tom Harris is a male, married, middle aged, middle class, educated and well paid Member of Parliament (incidentally, with sons rather than daughters). In his blog post, he almost manages to put himself in the position of the father of a teenage mother. Almost. The father may well be hopping mad, in denial, disappointed, and fearful, but what good would showing that do to his daughter? They've probably had that fight already. Summoning pride and hope in support of a daughter who may well be terrified herself is surely better than arguments and recriminations; once the baby has been born, that moment has long past.

I wonder if he has tried to put himself in the postion of the daughter. Fear. Panic. Worry. Hope. The coming realisation that no matter what they do, they are now tied to live with the child they brought into the world. Education, work, relationships are all bundled up into that.

I've heard from friends that recently had children - married people, as it happens - about how challenging the whole parenting thing is. How much harder must that be on your own?

There are education programmes being developed to give young people a better chance of understanding their bodies, and learning the self esteem to be able to make decisions in their own best interests. I hope that Sexual Health and Relationship Education (SHARE) will make the difference to the generations growing up today. Parents are intended to be part of this education, and they need to feel able to encourage their children in a positive way.

I hinted at the difference between attitudes to boys and girls by their parents earlier. There are very different attitudes to sex and relationships by gender, and this needs to be tackled as part of young people's development. Put simply, girls don't get pregnant on their own.

For those who have had their babies, we need to assist where we can. Offer childcare places and routes into training and employment. Offer parenting classes where they are needed, or just finding ways to lend a hand. There are ways of preventing or breaking the benefits cycle and these are better to be carrots rather than sticks.

The teenage mums who have visited my surgeries aren't looking for handouts. They're looking for the best start they can give their children, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. If that happens to be a warm, secure home, then fine. It's a start, and when their home life is on track, I believe other things will eventually follow.

It's not my job to judge the people who ask for my assistance - as an elected representative it's my job to do my best for each and every one of my constituents. With his moralising patronising tone, Tom Harris risks alienating the constituents who need him most.


joe90 kane said...

As the former Iron Chancellor Gordon Brown keeps repeating, the 'recession' is global -
- so why should anybody vote for New Labour when they've no control over their own economy, I've no idea.

What have voters and taxpayers been paying him and New Labour Party MPs for, all these years they've been in government, when they admit they're just a bunch of parasitic, over-rated, vastly over-paid, useless spongers in pinstripe suits?

As the former Iron Chancellor leads the UK from one disaster to the next, are New Labour MPs of the British Government going to be allowed to benefit from their failures and keep their swanky salaries and vast portfolio of allowances and pensions I wonder?

Those New Labour excuses in full -

1. New Labour foreign policy disasters -
- blame British Muslim folk!

2. New Labour economic disasters -
- blame poor, vulnerable, weak, working class mothers!

all the best BB!

I said something similar over on Tartan Hero's blog -
Alcohol and our communities: no action from Labour
02 Mar 2009

Mark McDonald said...


This is an excellent post, avoiding any unnecessary hysteria but at the same time detailing why Tom Harris' comments are entirely inappropropriate for someone who deals with sensitive cases such as teenage mothers etc.

I wonder if everyone who attends a Tom Harris surgery for benefit advice is asked for their life story before he will deal with them, lest they should fail to meet the "morality test".

Sure, teenage pregnancy is a problem and not something to be encouraged, but there are ways and means to address a problem such as this, and engaging in a rant does little to help.

Tom Harris should know better.

joe90 kane said...

Tom Harris opines -
Proud that she was, in all likelihood, about to embark on a lifetime of depending on benefit handouts for her and her child?

I’m a Labour MP, so some will undoubtedly be surprised, and shocked that I’m writing this. But I can no longer pretend that the army of teenage mothers living off the state is anything other than a national catastrophe.

- Unlike the 1.3 trillion pounds of British taxpayers money just newly handed out by Tom and his New Labour chums to private banks in subsidies to reward them for gross irresponsibilty and total incompetence.

Tom wants young mums, and their bonnie wee bairns, to live in the real world but not his pals in corporate finance and banking whom he protects from the effects of free-markets forces using other people's hard-earned money to do so.

Tom is, after all, up against a formidable 'army' of teenagers and their children - much like Jack Straw was intimidated by women wearing veils in his surgery, but wasn't put off from illegaly attacking Saddam even though Jack claimed Saddam had WMD.

The return of morality indeed - whose paying for New Labour lies, deceit and utter incompetence?

Why not finance these teenage dependants using PFI, the same way New Labour is using it to finance the bail-out of bankrupt incompetent failed banks, who have also become taxpayer dependents?

Clairwil said...

I very much doubt that more than a handful of teenage pregnacies are planned.

It is interesting that the blame for all this seems to lie with the mothers for Tom. I can't claim to have been top of the class in biology but I suspect these children have fathers.

One wonders what effect the message that women from the minute they are of child bearing age are solely responsible for the consequences of any sexual contact is.

A woman can only have one pregnacy at a time, a man, in contrast, can father children with numerous partners on a daily basis if he's lucky enough. Is it too much to ask that men take a bit of responsibility for their own hyperfertitly before a pregnancy happens?

Anyone genuinely concerned about teenage parents would address this. Tom doesn't which leads me to suspect a good old fashioned blame the bird mentality.

His comments in the orginal post about the 16 year old mother's father were in my view appalling. Can he not accept that the man was delighted by the sight of his new grandchild? Is he to fixated on people as economic units to understand a normal, happy human reaction when he see's one.

Many parents, rightly have misgivings (to say the least) about their teenage children giving birth but they usually get swept up in love for their new grandchild after the birth. Harris is a bean counter with the soul of a calculator.

Anonymous said...

'I've heard from friends that recently had children - married people, as it happens - about how challenging the whole parenting thing is.'


subrosa said...

This is a subject I've had an interest in for many years. For many of these years various governments have poured more and more money into sex education, health education, new benefits, nurseries, the list goes on, but teenage pregnancies increase.

There aren't any more teenagers around today then there were in the 50s and 60s so what's the difference between then and today?

A certain percentage of young boys and girls feel sex is their entitlement, that's fine with me but they also have to accept the responsibility for their behaviour. The excuse of 'I was drunk' is bad enough but the one when they're asked why they didn't use protection and they given a shrug of their shoulders is far worse.

For centuries women have had to take far more responsibility for their sexual behaviour because of the possibility of becoming pregnant. They don't nowadays. To be equal to the sexes many males have never taken responsibility and just walked away. That will continue with men/boys.

Therefore it's up to females to return to being responsible. When I was young it was shame of letting down our family and friends that prevented us having sex but of course there's no shame left in society these days, everything's acceptable.

My solution is radical. Cut the benefits for unmarried (non cohabitating) mothers. Pay them the basic child allowance and let them be supported by their family and friends until their name arrives at the top of the housing list just like many others. That would cut nearly 50% of these unplanned babies and would be the best contraception around. Yes it may sound cruel to some but think of the unwanted babies, few who ever get out of the benefit trap.

I'm quite weary giving my taxes to pay for creches, nurseries etc for these youngsters who say 'I want the baby because I want someone to love'. It's tragic we have such a society but it's really no good continuing with this style of social engineering.

Young girls need to begin to have respect for themselves and others plus, if society started to be more vocal about teenage pregnancies, they may begin to realise sex has responsibilities and one is protecting their own health with proper contraception.

Hopefully I don't sound like an old wifie with Victorian values because that's not what I'm trying to convey. Changes are needed in out society but throwing money at some things is just the wrong way to go about it.

Rant over!

joe90 kane said...

Rant over!

- As far as over-population of superfluous elements amongst the smelly working classes is concerned
(or in other words, too much fertility amongst undesirable unwanted asocial types due to the fact there's not enough jobs in the economy to absorb them, so we have to think of ways of punishing them for the crime of being born)
I've always advocated a policy of attacking this sort of problem at its root - by carrying out periodic culls of rich, idle, parasitic loafers and scroungers such as Rupert Murdoch for instance, who pays no taxes but expects British taxpayers to provide foreigners like him with free public services to keep his money-making scams going and in profit.

I also think the royal family aught to be sterilised ,en masse, given the amount of money they cost the taxpayer per head - compared to the same amount of money being used on social provisions for the population of Britian's poorest area, the east end of Glasgow, this would be value for money per head of population, and taxes well spent.

Also, someone should go around the private schools of Britian where the rich send their off-spring, armed with a pair of castrators, and target all the males before they've a chance to procreate and produce more rich parasites like their parents.

That way, we'll save billions and trillions of pounds of the wealth, created by the working classes, from being siphoned away into off-shore tax havens where the superfluous mucroscopic minority of rich people are known to congregate.

And then there is the council tax refusniks of Bearsden and Milngavie, who work in Glasgow everyday and expect the poorest of working classes in Glasgow's East End to subsidise the well-off and their lifestyles in the leafy suburbs where little council tax gets paid.

Then there is the transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest which has taken place since Thatcher came to power and has carried on ever since....

...and then there is the recent trillions of pounds in subsidises from taxpayers to the corporate welfare state for the rich, in order to reward financial an banking corroption and incompetence on a truly global historic scale, in order to make sure the free-market is prevented from working properly because, unusually this time, its the rich who are being affected by the free-market not the poor who are being given the blame for the recession/depression because they insist on breeding, and therefore shouldn't be subsidised unlike the rich.....etc etc

What needs to be done, with firmness and a steady hand, is that responsible persons have to grab and yank the causes of fecundity amongst the idle rich out by the roots - it's for their own good!

A policy of tough love is the only way forward.

Remember, if it's not hurting its not working.

Tough on new labour, tough on the causes of new labour.

I hope this doesn't sound like a rant.

all the best BB!

joe90 kane said...

As New Labour merely follow whatever the Yanks do,
it won't be long before Tom Harris MP is advocating this sort of thing for the sort of people, he and New Labour, have put in so much hard work to create -
States consider drug tests for welfare recipients
Yahoo News
26 Mar 2009

all the best BB!

It won't be long either before these will be getting used to round up poor folk, in order to test them to see if they've been taking drugs to escape their miserable existence -
Police to get 6,000 extra Tasers
19 Mar 2009

joe90 kane said...

Tom Harris MP
seems quite concerned about the plight of train enthusiasts -
Railway Enthusuaists and Photography
Tom Harris
Early Day Motion EDM 1159
UK Parliament
23 Mar 2009

Judging by his voting record in Westmidden, Tom seems quite an enthusiast for New Labour's Stasi-style state recently announced by Jacqui Smith -
Thousands getting terror training
HMG Ministry of Propaganda
22 Mar 2009
By 2011, Britain will be spending £3.5bn a year on counter-terrorism, the Home Office has said.

The number of police working on counter-terrorism has risen to 3,000 from 1,700 in 2003.

Maybe if Tom and his pals in the New Labour government would stop committing Hitlerian war crimes abroad, which he fully supports judging by his voting record, then we wouldn't need to turn Britian into an East Germany police state, with spies and informers everywhere.

But then, that's the kind of state intervention authoritarian Tom, and New Labour, do approve of. A state that looks after its own interests - rather than one that actually intervenes to look after the interest and welfare of its citizens, such as lovely expectant mothers and their happy grandads whom Tom has only undiluted hatred and bile for.

all the best BB!

Anti-social lager louts sprayed with cs gas -
Police use CS spray in Parliament
BBC Politics
31 Mar 2009

The streets aren't safe to walk these days!

British war crimes cause terrorism, according to the British Governments own intelligence and security agencies who are paid to know these things -
Blair admits terrorist "blowback"
David Morrison
spinwatch (Strathclyde Uni)
27 June 2007

What do you call someone who continues to vote for government policies that deliberately put the public in harms way of terrorists, and who sends British troops abroad, putting them in harms way, for a pack of lies about Iraqi WMD?

Tom Harris maybe?

Kirsteen said...

I am the first to admit I am a bit suspicious of teenage mothers especially when I was a teenager (only 2 years ago now!) With the various methods of contraception out there nowadays how can you possibly get pregnant unless you hae been living in a cave for the past 10 years?

The pill is not the only option though I think it is still seen as such despite it being a relatively inefficent contraceptive compared to say the implant which is just what it sounds like.

A small implant is placed underneath the skin which releases a hormone that prevents pregnancy. You can't forget it its in there for three years so no forgetting to take the pill in the morning.

Mistakes do happen yes despite the best of intentions but I would have big questions as to why there are still so many teenage mothers when there are literally hundreds of safe and easy to obtain methods of contraception out there.

If kids are having babies as they don't see what else they can do to make a living then we really have to start making some opportunities for those who feel they have nothing but a reproductive system to rely on.