Issue: Teenage pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy is a contemporary social issue, especially in Australia, who “is ranked by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world.” The perceived issue with teenage pregnancies is that teenagers are not emotionally and financially ready to raise children. The legal system has responded to this issue with the introduction of new legislation, and the introduction of community organisations.
Australia has a national and international duty to protect the rights of young people. Parents not fulfilling these responsibilities during their child’s upbringing are a major ...view middle of the document...
DOCS provides a 24 hour state-wide Helpline to help those who are at risk of harm and intervene where there are concerns about their safety, welfare and in particular, lack of sufficient parental supervision.
However, DOCS have not been as effective in addressing this issue. For example, a 12 year old girl was living with her 15-year-old boyfriend, despite her father’s pleas to DOCS and the girl will now be a Mother at 12. In the Daily Telegraph on June 16 2009, Police stated that “they were unable to intervene because both children were under the age of consent”. DOCS also admitted their “staff were working on more urgent cases …but more intensive casework could have been done”.
Consequently, the State Government has allocated an extra $520 million to child protection in the 2009-10 State budget. However, we need to introduce further legislation to protect children and young people from pregnancies. Dubbo MP Dawn Fardell believes that “many of these situations do come from… parents who are struggling to look after themselves. In this case, the girl should have been taken from her mother and placed in a safer environment”. Therefore, Australia needs further legislation to prevent such cases from occurring because “we are accountable to society for allowing this to happen.”
A long term implication for teenage mothers is not completing their secondary education. As a result, there are a range of community-based organisations that provide opportunities to young mothers, including the DALE Young Mothers Program. DALE commenced in 2000 to support teenage mothers in Newcastle and the Hunter. The Program delivers a flexible educational model for teenage mothers to continue their education in an alternative learning environment, and therefore, DALE has been an effective response in addressing this issue.
Overall, the legal system has been effective in...