Conservative calls for harsher measures against teenage mothers


by Rumbold
17th March, 2010 at 8:34 pm    

The shadow children’s minister, Tim Loughton, has called for the harsher treatment of children under sixteen who have sex:

‘[It is] against the law to get pregnant at 14. How many kids get prosecuted for having underage sex? Virtually none. ‘Where are the consequences of breaking the law and having irresponsible underage sex? There aren’t any.’

Asked if was advocating more prosecutions, Mr Loughton said: ‘We need to be tougher. Without sounding horribly judgmental, it is not a good idea to be a mum at 14. ‘You are too young, throwing away your childhood and prospects of developing a career.’

This seems like a counterproductive and wrong-headed idea. Better sex education and more males using condoms is the way forward. We have laws in this country that prohibit sex with those under sixteen because we don’t believe they are able to give consent. So what would be the point in prosecuting two, say, fourteen year olds? It won’t stop people doing it, and will just criminalise teenage girls (especially). Note too how the focus of Mr. Loughton’s criticism is on teenage girls, despite the fact that it takes two to tango and plenty of teenage girls suffer sexual-related abuse at the hands of their boyfriends.

It is telling that the only person the Daily Mail quoted in support of the plan is discredited ‘parenting expert’ Patricia Morgan.


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  1. Low Back Pain and Workman’s Compensation

    [...] Pickled Politics » Conservative calls for harsher measures against teenage mothers [...]


  2. Heather

    RT @SohoPolitico: After unions, Tories launch attack on another of their traditional hate figures: teen mums http://bit.ly/dxHXxt. Gays next, or immigrants?


  3. Kyle-Noel Taylor

    RT @SohoPolitico: After unions, Tories launch attack on another of their traditional hate figures: teen mums http://bit.ly/dxHXxt. Gays next, or immigrants?


  4. Tim Ireland

    RT @SohoPolitico: After unions, Tories launch attack on another of their traditional hate figures: teen mums http://bit.ly/dxHXxt. Gays …


  5. James Asser

    RT@SohoPolitico After unions Tories attack another of their traditional hate figures teen mums http://bit.ly/dxHXxt Gays next or immigrants?


  6. ThinkingIsDangerous

    Naughty girls should be disciplined *cough* #sameoldtories RT @numerate prosecute underage girls for getting pregnant http://bit.ly/dxHXxt


  7. Carol Roper

    After unions, Tories launch attack on another of their traditional hate figures: teen mums http://bit.ly/dxHXxt. Gays next, or immigrants?


  8. Paula Thomas

    good morning for #sameoldtories with girls -> jail for pregnancy http://bit.ly/dxHXxt and funding Steiner schools http://bit.ly/bjQ5oM


  9. Chris Coltrane

    Tory: "How many kids get prosecuted for underage sex? Virtually none… We need to be tougher." http://bit.ly/ceZbDI


  10. Layla Vandenbergh

    ARGH RT @chris_coltrane: Tory:"How many kids get prosecuted for underage sex? Virtually none… We need to be tougher." http://bit.ly/ceZbDI


  11. Darryl Ellson

    RT @SohoPolitico: After unions, Tories launch attack on another of their traditional hate figures: teen mums http://bit.ly/dxHXxt. Gays …


  12. Ell Aitch

    RT @SohoPolitico: After unions, Tories launch attack on another of their traditional hate figures: teen mums http://bit.ly/dxHXxt. Gays …




  1. earwicga — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:07 pm  

    And the most likely age to be raped is the teenage years. I expect the tories would love to punish teenage girls for rape.

    Not that Labour are much better. Anyone remember Gordon Brown’s speech when he wanted to lock up all teenage mums.

    Teenage pregnancy doesn’t have to have a negative effect on the life of the mother, but as this week’s Barnados report points out, teenage mums are acvitely being forced out of schools:

    In England, nearly 70% of young mothers are not in education, employment or training (NEETs), according to 2008 figures from the Department for Work and Pensions.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8565993.stm

    Link to the Barnados press release and report: http://www.barnardos.org.uk/news_and_events/media_centre/press_releases.htm?ref=55518

  2. Laban — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:34 pm  

    I see. Over on Lib Con he’s apparently attempting to ‘criminalise sex’, here he’s attacking mothers.

    * sigh *.

    There’s not an election coming up, is there ?

  3. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 9:46 pm  

    Another vicious twerp.

    Labour’s biggest failure will be that it did not reduce the voting age to 16.

  4. MiriamBinder — on 17th March, 2010 at 10:58 pm  

    Young mothers are a nice soft target …

  5. Yakoub — on 18th March, 2010 at 6:58 am  

    So to aid teenage mums in throwing away their career prospects, the Tories now plan to give them criminal records just to make it even more difficult for them to get jobs. Much as I loathe warmongering New Labour, it seems to me the Tory front bench are having trouble sharing the same brain cell. This is even better than Gove having maths ‘genius’ Carol Vorderman write the school maths curriculum (Carol got a third class honours degree in maths).

  6. platinum786 — on 18th March, 2010 at 10:20 am  

    I think within some parts of our society teen pregnancy has become a culture. I think it does need to be tackled.

    My suggestions;

    1. You either decriminalise children having sex or you enforce the law. If a 15 year old boy is having sex with a 15 year old girl, then he is commiting a criminal act. He should be punished for it. There should be a prison sentence involved. If not, then why make a mockery of the law by having it there the first place?

    2. End benefits culture. My family have lived on benefits for 6 months during my life. My father suffered a heart attack and was off work for that period of time. Since then he has returned to work. I was 14-15 at the time, it was not easy living. We struggled to make ends meet. We still had to make the mortgage payments. However there are people that live the easy life on benefits. If you have a council flat, bills paid for, dole money coming in weekly, it may seem attractive to some.

    3. Sex education. I don’t mean teaching them different sex positions and all sorts. When i was at school we were taught the biological parts at age 12 and the safety parts at age 16. I was in school not too long ago. We don’t need to teach 5 year old how to make babies. They don’t make babies at that stage. We need to be teaching 13-14 year old about safe sex, the legal aspects of underage sex and the aftermath, pregnancy. How many kids know what a nappy that needs changing smells like? How often babies need feeding? How much a child costs? The common sense stuff isn’t taught to them, how many girls know the affect of pregnancy about their bodies?

    We would still miss the main problem though, the sex culture and the drink culture in our society. Even when i was at school, it was expected that people lose their virginity as soon as possible. How many people utilise the porn filters that you can get on the internet or on your TV? Apparently less than 1 in 5. Children are exposed to too much sex, anyone exposed to sex wants sex, so perhaps we should look to restrict the sexual content available?

    Also do we have any stats on the number of teen pregnancies or occassions were udnerage sex has taken place where alchohol was involved? Nobody wants to really tackle the binge drinking culture in this country. It’s okay to be drunk on the streets of Britain. Should it be okay to be drunk on the streets?

  7. Kulvinder — on 18th March, 2010 at 10:54 am  

    What a complete and utter wanker, id write more but ive just spent the past 48 hours with the norovirus yes the actual norovirus.

    I can confirm you do indeed puke your entire insides out, basically your stomach stops hurling when you bring up bile.

    It is not fun

  8. Kulvinder — on 18th March, 2010 at 10:58 am  

    I notice the mail and their psychotic readers think putting children in jail if they become pregnant is a good idea.

  9. earwicga — on 18th March, 2010 at 5:54 pm  

    platinum786

    I think within some parts of our society teen pregnancy has become a culture. I think it does need to be tackled.

    I understand how you may think this, but nonetheless it is untrue.

    I also disagree with the rest of your comment in it’s entirety.

  10. Rumbold — on 18th March, 2010 at 8:46 pm  

    It is telling that below is one of the worst-rated comments:

    Ok, me and my girlfriend are 16 and 15 respectively and we have sex, thankfully we’re both smart enough to make sure she doesn’t get pregnant. How are the Tories going to find out about under-age sex though, go up to your door and say “Excuse me but have you had sex with your gf or bf, if so we’re going to lock you up” How many people will admit to it?

  11. persephone — on 18th March, 2010 at 9:35 pm  

    ” plenty of teenage girls suffer sexual-related abuse at the hands of their boyfriends.”

    Its very irresponsible of Loughton given the reserach from the link provided on sexual abuse/bullying of teenagers. Especially, more so in light of the Govt adverts I have seen recently which are trying to tackle this.

  12. Dalbir — on 18th March, 2010 at 10:13 pm  

    There is a problem with youngsters becoming sexualised very early in the UK.

    Plus there is an underclass for whom teenage pregnancy and state benefits are akin to a lifestyle choice.

  13. earwicga — on 18th March, 2010 at 10:21 pm  

    Dalbir

    Plus there is an underclass for whom teenage pregnancy and state benefits are akin to a lifestyle choice.

    Evidence please.

  14. MiriamBinder — on 18th March, 2010 at 11:07 pm  

    There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence to confirm Dalbirs’ assertion regarding teenage pregnancy/state benefit being a lifestyle choice. However I do think that for the majority the life style choice is one that is more or less forced on them. They become pregnant and then they are faced with having to make a lifestyle choice; not easy when you bear in mind the youth and lack of experience for many of these expectant mothers, the emotional roller-coaster that is pregnancy and all things associated with it. Not to mention the fact that for many, especially those who then end up on state benefits, there is very little in the way of real choice to start with.

    I don’t think that penalising teenage mothers is necessarily a way to address the problem of teenage pregnancy. I think that the primary issue that needs to be addressed is the early sexualisation of youngsters. That is however easier said then done.

  15. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 8:28 am  

    The shadow children’s minister, Tim Loughton, has called for the harsher treatment of children under sixteen who have sex

    I do not think you could come up with a worse solution than this even if you tried. Teenage pregnancies usually stem from disadvantaged backgrounds which means that children are being brought up in not so ideal conditions and that tends to propagate the problem. Anyone who is serious about tackling this issue would attempt to improve their conditions to break the cycle.

    Having said that, when we were expecting our first child, we met this teenage couple in the NHS pre-natal classes. It was quite moving to see both of them so young and at the same time taking it all very seriously both as a couple and as future parents.

  16. Kismet Hardy — on 19th March, 2010 at 11:04 am  

    Teenage mothers are like single mothers only younger and cost the taxpayers billions of pounds a week. It is a known fact that teenage single mothers fund the crack industry, which is what gives terrorists the money they need to keep us afraid in our own homes. We can’t lock our own front doors because of them. We should bring back sterilisation. We need to have compulsary hymen checks. If you’re not having unprotected unchristian sex then you have nothing to worry about.

  17. earwicga — on 19th March, 2010 at 11:08 am  

    Very good Kismet :) That is the next Tory policy to be revealed y’know.

  18. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 11:20 am  

    Ravi,

    ‘Having said that, when we were expecting our first child, we met this teenage couple in the NHS pre-natal classes. It was quite moving to see both of them so young and at the same time taking it all very seriously both as a couple and as future parents.’

    I am always impressed by young parents; and single mums. The trials they are put through is scandulous.

    Dalbir, I agree with your point about sexualisation, but then you go and completley ruin it. In fact what you went on to say is outrageous.

    By sexualisation you refer to the environment we ‘adults’ have created, and then blame the youngsters for their behaviour. The social environment is now as much a part of the commercial world as our education sector.

    Create an environment where we value our youth, and then they can start valuing themselves. But I suppose you have to value yourself first.

  19. persephone — on 19th March, 2010 at 12:26 pm  

    The Torys want to introduce a more tax friendly system for those married – is this to encourage & reward single parents/people to marry a person they would not normally?

  20. Dalbir — on 19th March, 2010 at 1:12 pm  

    Okay, I’ll take that 2nd statement back folks. I think the issue may seem more pronounced in some areas than others, relating directly to their socio-economic status.

    I stand corrected.

    Still, the way sex seems to be used to sell everything around us can’t help. Nor can cultural issues in the UK. For many, being a teenager and being a virgin is considered very uncool in the country.

  21. persephone — on 19th March, 2010 at 1:30 pm  

    I’m waiting for the Tories to suggest bringing back chastity belts for teenage girls, not being judgemental of course.

  22. Shamit — on 19th March, 2010 at 1:51 pm  

    Refresh

    Excellent points

  23. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:19 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Do you think this is the playing fields of Eton getting their own back?

    Dalbir,

    there is no underclass. Its purely a political and divisive term from the Thatcher era. Don’t fall for it. If you want to get a better handle on it watch ‘Kes’.

    I watched it last night on FilmFour, and it had me in tears. Yes I am old enough to visibly fill up without worrying about being called a girl.

  24. Dalbir — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:32 pm  

    Refresh,

    Whilst I don’t think there is a set underclass (as families seem to go through cycles of poverty and prosperity), I think the people who are stuck on the bottom end of the pile for a while could be termed as an underclass, even if the position is quite a fluid one.

    The question we need to ask is what actions are these people taking that are cementing them in such positions. I would say sticking a bun in the oven at a young age could be a contributing factor for some. Having a child at a very young age with no wider support is no walk in the park.

    Also what are the comparative figures for teenage pregnancies between what is considered as middle class and lower working class society? (Granted you think these terms are red herrings from Thatcher’s era but they are still conceptualisations used to categorise and define British society). If this is significantly higher in one group than the other, we have to ask why?

  25. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:56 pm  

    Whilst I don’t think there is a set underclass (as families seem to go through cycles of poverty and prosperity), I think the people who are stuck on the bottom end of the pile for a while could be termed as an underclass, even if the position is quite a fluid one

    I agree. The problem is that it is not that fluid. From what I’ve read, teenage pregnancies tend to be high in low educational and poverty backgrounds, which self-perpetuates the problem. There is also a study that says that poverty is not solved by delaying pregnancies. Education seems to be the right path to get out of this cycle, the problem is formulating social policy that facilitates that.

  26. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:06 pm  

    It is absolutely impossible to know whether kids are having sex, unless girls become pregnant. The unintended (?) consequence of this law would be an increase in the number of abortions.

  27. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:16 pm  

    Dalbir,

    I would rather they be considered to be longterm unemployed than stigmatised as the underclass. Doing so allows the Daily Mail and others to dismiss them out of hand. In fact it attempts to encapsulate more than just being poor – feckless.

    If you want to see how quickly you can become a part of this category, you would need to observe the demise of once proud, hardworking communities such as the mining areas of the country.

    That observation should not be conflated with the issue under discussion.

  28. Dalbir — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:41 pm  

    Interesting point Refresh,

    From a partial outsider’s perspective, there does seem to be animosity between what we could label as working and middle classes.

    The thing with the DM is that what it does is tap into a real and long standing mindset within the British people relating to class and inherent supercillious attitudes that form part of this construct. What the DM types are essentially doing is falling back on notions of superiority by calling those they deem beneath them ‘oiks’ i.e. lesser beings. They are failing to acknowledge the cyclic nature of poverty/prosperity. So the sneering at teenaged pregnancies could be just another product of this, especially if there is a relationship between poverty and the teenage preggers as Ravi suggests at 25.

    Historically speaking, it sometimes looks like this deeply engrained mindset only really began to be challenged through the writings of Charles Dickens and others like him!! lol

    One of enduring caricatures of the working class from middler sources was that of their being over-sexed and incapable or unwilling to restrain themselves. I imagine this old chestnut plays its (albeit small) part in the current Tory stance?

    Getting back to the heart of the matter, do teenage pregnancies have detrimental effects on the mothers and the child[ren]. We should look at that.

    Another question is why is it that middle class children who are exposed to the same sexualised images and whatnot outside of the house to what the WC are but don’t seem to having the issues with pregnancies? What does this suggest?

  29. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:03 pm  

    Another question is why is it that middle class children who are exposed to the same sexualised images and whatnot outside of the house to what the WC are but don’t seem to having the issues with pregnancies? What does this suggest?

    I am in the opinion that the outcome of an individual is largely dependent on his or her parent’s education and income. I do think that much of these social problems can be traced to parenting. It is easy to stigmatize these parents, but when are on a low income you are more likely to work long hours and not have time with your children. When your educational background is poor, you are unable to help your children with their homework and provide necessary motivation to go ahead. Obviously there are lots of exceptions, but it is so much harder when you are poor and in a low-educational background to get out of the poverty cycle, then if you are in a more privileged socio-economic background.

    This is why I find this conservative proposal so perverse.

  30. Rumbold — on 20th March, 2010 at 12:10 pm  

    Refresh:

    I think we as a society have failed to address the inevitable decline of unprofitable industries. We haven’t provided any training, and that, combined with an increase in migrant workers, a relatively generous welfare system and high taxes on the lowly piad has reduced the incentive for people in those areas to work. What we need to do is:

    -Cut regulation to make Britain more business-friendly, which will decrease the cost of running a business, allow more businesses to set up and so increase wages (because of a greater scarcity of workers).
    -More vocational training.
    -Raise tax threshold limits so that no one earning under £13,400 pays any income tax.

  31. earwicga — on 20th March, 2010 at 2:13 pm  

    Dalbir

    Getting back to the heart of the matter, do teenage pregnancies have detrimental effects on the mothers and the child[ren]. We should look at that.

    The major detrimental effect is poverty. Other effects have been documented, but to me they cannot be considered valid without the major factor of poverty being factored out.
    Wiki has quite a good entry on teenage pregnancy for those new to the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_pregnancy

  32. Dalbir — on 20th March, 2010 at 7:47 pm  

    I don’t know about this poverty thing anymore.

    Poverty in modern Britain is weird. Only a few decades ago when you were poor, you really were.

    These days many children of teenage mums wear designer clothes, have games consoles, mobile phones etc.

    They can even be obese, which is a notion unheard of outside of the west – overfed poor kids! You can tell the poor in other nations because they are emaciated.

    Being poor isn’t as tough as it used to be here. I guess that is one of the achievements of the UK, although it does have other less pleasant side effects.

    I think cultural issues need to addressed in terms of what the children in such situations are encouraged to do (or not!). The atmosphere at home etc.

    Some books wouldn’t go a miss and spending a bit of time reading a page or two with your kid or drawing wouldn’t hurt. An interest in their education etc.

    But I guess if your a bit of a plank yourself, that may be a tad bit difficult?

    People rightly condemn a draconian response to all this but an excessively limp wristed, wishy washy one is just as bad.

  33. Serendipity — on 21st March, 2010 at 3:06 am  

    If young girls are not responsible enough to ensure they do not become pregnant given all the sexual education and contraceptive measures provided by the state, are they really responsible enough to bring up a child?

    It is extremely rare for a young girl to become pregnant from her first sexual encounter – end the benefit for first time solo mothers and the problem will virtually disappear. Along with the problem of feral youth that seem to be produced by many of these career solo mums.

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