The Teenage Pregnancy Myth



In 1997 the newly elected Labour government was quick to take measures against teenage motherhood. In 1999 they published a seminal document which became hugely influential in shifting both the public's and policy makers' ideas of the 'problem' of teenage pregnancy. The report was underpinned by a drive to tackle social exclusion. The report's tone was set in its foreword where Tony Blair described youthful pregnancy as leading to 'shattered lives and blighted futures'. But teenage fertility was highest 4 decades ago in 1971 with 51 births per 1000 in women under 20. Since then the numbers have halved.

In this programme Miranda Sawyer hears from leading social scientists who argue that public policy has ignored evidence which shows that far from shattered lives and blighted futures, teenage mothers and their children can and do lead happy, healthy lives.

Do assumptions about teenage pregnancy stand up to scrutiny? Miranda Sawyer investigates.