I saw a young girl walking through the village whilst I was on my way to the shop this morning. She couldn’t have been more than fifteen – and that’s being generous – but she looked very close to giving birth. Her boyfriend was with her, looking awkward and ungainly at that difficult age where girls are still slightly taller than boys. They stoically clung to one another and defied me, or anyone else, to look at them disdainfully and my heart went out to them for the prejudice they’ll face.

Teen pregnancy is a big ‘problem’ in Britain. Looking at some statistics provided by wikipedia, twenty UK births out of every thousand are to mothers in their teens – a staggering number when compared to other European nations.  I wanted some more information though – some of the stories behind the numbers – and so found myself watching a recent BBC documentary via the modern-marvel of iplayer . This programme followed two girls and their mothers’, one of whom was fourteen year-old Lydia, and the other sixteen year-old, Chantelle.

Lydia initially came across as a childish creature – stubborn and determined to do things the way she wanted (rather like my good self, some might say – although unlike me, she grew up considerably as the programme progressed 😛 ).  Chantelle, on the other hand, struck me as being a sensible young woman from the outset and continued to prove herself throughout the course of the show. Whilst Lydia was throwing a temper tantrum because someone had managed to bring home how ridiculous she was being, Chantelle was the only one there (including Lydia’s mother) who had the presence and strength of mind to say, “Yes, it’s hard, but that was her opinion.” Later on in proceedings, she managed to comfort her own mother, though she herself was streaming with tears, because that was what needed to be done.

Thinking about it, I see women older than me letting their other children push the pram while they have a cigarette and talk on the phone. I see others (and I kid you not!) speeding the wrong way without lights on down our one-way street – child seat in the back and baby-on-board sign proudly proclaiming just how irresponsible they’re being.

Frankly, I’d rather have a teenager like Chantelle raise the next generation than these thirty-somethings who think that just because they’re older, they’re better parents.

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