Care for some parenting classes?
The Prime Minister David Cameron has recently announced the start of a
programme offering parenting classes to expectant parents and those with children up to the age of two.
The programme is expected to start on a piloting basis in Middleborough, Camden (North London) and High Peak (Derbyshire) with a relationship support service beginning in York, Leeds, North Essex and some London boroughs from July, the Guardian reports. The initiative is not specifically targeted at young people, but they might be the ones who have the most to benefit from it. It is an undoubtedly welcome initiative.
Although the latest available data (2010) from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that under-18 motherhood is the lowest since 1969 standing at 35.5 conceptions per thousand women. It also showed that, even though teenage fertility rates are decreasing, the UK probably remains the country with the highest such rate in Western Europe and the 7th highest in the OECD group of developed countries (behind Mexico, Chile, Bulgaria, Turkey, the US and Latvia). The ONS mentions that “It is widely understood that teenage pregnancy and early motherhood can be associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation, poverty and related factors”.
Former Labour Welfare Minister, Frank Field is quoted in the Guardian article as saying that “Poor parenting exists across the income distribution, but tends to have less of an impact on better-off children where other factors provide greater protection against poor outcomes”. Given that teenagers are generally not as well-off as other age groups, it can be argued that they would be the ones who have more to benefit from the programme. That is why, from a young parent’s point of view, the chance to educate oneself on how to properly take care of a baby is definitely a welcome step. But is this really the best policy option, given the current economic situation and high unemployment? One can definitely be sceptical about whether parenting lessons should be a priority at a time when child benefits have been reduced.
The initiative, has caused mixed reactions, at least if one takes a peek at the comments accompanying the Guardian article. Some question the economic perspective of the policy, especially in a period of cuts, where benefits for other vulnerable groups are being reduced. Others point out that it might be more efficient to teach family planning, so that people will be aware of how to start a family when they are more financially stable.
What is your opinion? Do you or anyone close to you have a young parenting experience to share? Would you welcome the chance to learn parenting tips from a state programme or should that be the responsibility of the family? Share your opinions and stories with us.
Guardian. 2012. Parenting lessons: This is not the nanny state, says David Cameron [online] [Accessed June 2012] Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/18/parenting-lessons-not-nanny-state-david-cameron
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