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Are Teen Mums Lured By The DPB?

Massey University research fellow, Helen Wilson, recently made headlines when she concluded that, teen mums being lured by the DPB, was in fact a myth. The basis for this lay in a falling teenage birth rate since the introduction of the DPB. I wonder whether this government-funded researcher is aware of a study published in the British Medical Journal, July 28?

Like New Zealand, currently second in the developed world, the United Kingdom also has high teenage pregnancy rates. The level of concern in the United Kingdom led to a study into the changing patterns of teenage pregnancy. The study reaffirmed what was already known, that rates of teenage pregnancy are associated with socio-economic deprivation. Whilst pregnancy rates had dropped in the most affluent areas they had actually increased in the most socio-economically deprived areas.

"The reasons for this association are manifold; In addition to cultural differences in attitudes to early motherhood, sexual risk taking - defined as earlier or unprotected sexual activity - is influenced by employment and educational aspirations."

The New Zealand Medical Journal also published findings from the ongoing Christchurch Health and Development Study in July, showing a link between teenage pregnancy and low socio-economic background.

That the overall teenage birth rate is down, in itself, tells us nothing. With the hugely increased availability of contraception and abortion since 1973, the year the DPB was introduced, one would expect the teenage birth rate to have decreased.

It is entirely possible that teenage birth rates in the most socio- economically deprived areas of New Zealand, like those of the United Kingdom, have actually increased. Until some real "research" is undertaken, as opposed to looking at statistics on the WINZ website, Ms Wilson should be more careful about jumping to conclusions.

Lindsay Mitchell

Petitioner for a Parliamentary Review of the DPB
E-mail dandl.mitchell@clear.net.nz

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