Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting: An Overview

Date published
7 Dec 2011
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This overview report responds to a Ministerial request that the Families Commission undertake research on two distinct questions:

  • What are the reasons behind high rates of teenage parenthood amongst young teenagers in specific regions of New Zealand?
  • What would discourage second or repeat teenage pregnancies?

This overview answers these questions and draws on the key findings from our full reports on regional statistics on teenage parenthood; Māori teenage pregnancy and parenthood; and a literature review on repeat teenage pregnancy.

In high-rate regions, the rates of teen motherhood can be explained by the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the region. These regions have areas of relatively high socioeconomic deprivation. They also have larger Māori teenage populations. Māori have a higher rate of fertility than the general population and this holds for Māori teenagers. There is much variation of rates within regions and targeting interventions by region rather than focusing on communities within these regions may lead to inefficient use of limited resources. Some high-rate regions have low populations and therefore low numbers of teenage parenthood.

New Zealand has many elements of an effective system of support for preventing repeat teen pregnancies, but there are gaps. The research identified a need to build more deliberate connections to make better use of current resources and to provide teen parents with supported alternatives that build on their aspirations, including:

  • a stronger focus on relationship education and ongoing contraceptive advice for two years after the birth;
  • support for transitions to education, training or sustainable employment.
  • access to coordinated social services that respond to their complex needs
  • connected local networks focused on teenage pregnancy and parenthood that can be replicated through out New Zealand
  • valuing and understanding cultural needs for Māori teen parents
  • inclusive and responsive services aimed at the needs of teen fathers as parents.
Last update: 10 Jun 2015