SHIFT NC

Pregnant and Parenting Teens

Working with pregnant and parenting teens is an important component of our work.

Research shows, and we fully believe that:

  • "Teen parent" is not synonymous with "bad parent".
  • Young mothers and fathers can be very successful as individuals and as parents when they receive the support they need.
  • Working with young parents to help them succeed neither glorifies nor condones teen pregnancy.
  • Intentional work to help young parents attain their educational, career, social, and parenting goals reduces the negative outcomes traditionally associated (whether in myth or in fact) with teen pregnancy and childbearing.

Our tone

We do our best to combat the shame and stigma young parents face. Stigma and shame make parenting harder, and fail to help young people avoid unplanned pregnancies. We also recognize that many teen parents have been harmed by misguided publicity campaigns that denigrate them and their children in the name of prevention.

Our goal when we refer to young parents is to speak positively about their needs, their opportunities, and the ways our communities can support them as young people and as parents. We reject the idea that "teen pregnancy prevention" is an automatic rejection of young parents. Rather, we recognize that the vast majority of teen pregnancies are unplanned and believe teen pregnancy prevention is about giving young people the capacity to plan, control, and build their reproductive lives by accessing the education, support, and health care services they need to avoid unplanned pregnancy. 

Does working with young parents counts as "teen pregnancy prevention"?

Health advocacy groups often get internal and external pushback for working with teen parents as a strategy for reducing teen pregnancy. Approximately one-third of teen pregnancies in North Carolina happen to someone who has been pregnant at least once before. Put another way: One of the biggest risk factors for teen pregnancy is already being a teen parent. In our commitment to helping young people avoid unplanned pregnancy, we understand the need to extend the same efforts to young people who are already parenting or who have already experienced a pregnancy. 

Learn more about our Young Families Support work to help pregnant and parenting teens.