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Legitimate voices : teen mothers and education

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Pittaway, SM (2004) Legitimate voices : teen mothers and education. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The dominant discourses and stereotypical images surrounding the teenage mother cast her, overwhelmingly, in a negative light. She is a social, and (although to a lesser extent in contemporary society) a moral problem. The "wrong-girl" discourse is a powerful one, and shapes the dominant view of the teenage mother as having made bad (and wrong) choices. It seeks to shame and blame the young mother for her "predicament". It is also within this discursive framework that stereotypes abound: teenage mother as high school drop out; as irresponsible; as "stupid slut". Psychological traits are attributed to the teenage mother, which often cast her into an infantilised role, unable to make her own (responsible) decisions. According to this view of the teenage mother solutions need to be found to remedy her mistake. Some see the solution as the removal of all welfare benefits in an effort to make teenage parenting less attractive, while others call for a re-stigmatisation of teenage mothers. In terms of education, there are those who believe that teenage mothers must continue to follow the "normal" life trajectory through adolescence, which means completing secondary education at the same time
as her non-parenting peers, and then find employment in order to best provide for her family. Many barriers stand in the way for young mothers re-entering the adolescent world of secondary education, especially when school environments aren't supportive of the teenage mother. Despite this, and despite the negative view of teenage mothers, this narrative life history study sought to give voice, through the telling of their stories, to seven Tasmanian women who had given birth as teenagers and who had subverted the stereotype of "high school drop out" by re-engaging with education. This study complements earlier investigations by legitimising the voices of a select sample of young mothers in an effort to examine their view of the realities of their lives within the context of negative societal views, a mutual obligation welfare framework, and largely unsupportive school environments. There are implications of this study for educators and educational policy makers in Tasmania, the state with the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Australia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Teenage mothers
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2004 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2015 03:11
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2016 23:29
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