Young mothers – why the frowns?

Congratulations on your article “Happy families,” July 2004.

Of the 10,000 young women coming to YWCA centres in any year,
more than half are likely to be pregnant or young mums needing
support. We give it without judgement and certainly without
disapproval. Sadly, many of them tell us about negative attitudes
and discrimination they have faced from health, education and other
statutory services.

Negative stories about young mums in the national media
reinforce such prejudice, so it’s great to see a refreshingly
positive article that challenges the stereotypes.

While few young women have good things to say of their sex
education, we need to understand that having a baby as a teenager
is about much more than missing out on effective sex education. As
the stories here show, the

reasons for becoming a mother are different for everyone. For
many, becoming a mum is the best thing that has happened to them.
They’re doing a great job and for the first time want to plan
for a better future.

It’s time we stopped assuming that young mums can’t
be good mums, and started recognising that they have as much right
to our support, to education and training, and fundamental respect
as other mums. Let’s hope your article is the start of
something good.

Sally Copley
Director of policy, research and campaigns
YWCA England & Wales

School counselling is gaining ground

Your article on counselling in primary schools raises some
interesting issues.

Open Door Youth Counselling in Birmingham is a voluntary sector
agency and a registered charity working with health and education,
placing counsellors in secondary and some primary schools in the
city. This is a service the schools purchase from Open Door. The
schools project was set up some six years ago with lottery funding.
We enlisted the support and advice of the local education authority
before entering schools to negotiate service level agreements.

We were fully supported by the LEA and are working in 18
secondary and some primary schools in the city.

We have also done some support work with parents and offer
school staff counselling. This is in addition to our core service
which provides free and confidential counselling to young people
who can self-refer.

Carmel Mullan-Hartley
Director of services
Open Door Youth Counselling

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