Adolescent motherhood in an Australian context

Nicola Sheeran, Liz Jones, Lisa Farnell, Jennifer Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Adolescent motherhood has historically been conceptualised as a social problem requiring intervention, particularly in the US and UK where the issue has headlined policy for several decades. We draw on Australian and international literature to explore constructions of adolescent motherhood in Australia. We interrogate the common construction of adolescent motherhood as a primarily age-based problem and examine alternate discourses that could influence policy. We argue that constructing adolescent motherhood as an age-based problem perpetuates stereotypes and stigma and is potentially damaging to young mothers. We conclude that policy and funding decision makers need to reconsider how they are conceptualising the issue. Recommendations for addressing this include acknowledging the heterogeneous experiences of young mothers, reframing the issue as one of disadvantage rather than age, and shifting from a deficit to a strengths-based dialogue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Youth Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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