For many years, the role of young men in teenage pregnancies has been neglected as much attention has been paid to the girls. Due to this neglect, many teenage fathers do not take responsibility for their children leaving it all to the teenage mothers.
They have also been involved directly in abortion cases as many of them pressure their partners to have abortions claiming they are not ready for parenthood. It is for this reason that mentoring programs for the young fathers have been developed to help facilitate the participation of the boys in teenage pregnancies.
The mentoring programs are aimed at instilling responsibility values to the young fathers, not only to relieve the burden left on the mothers, but also to facilitate parental rights to the children. These programs have had positive results and are highly recommendable to those regions that have not yet implemented them especially the developing countries. This paper examines the effective advancement of mentorship programs for teenage fathers across the globe.
Young teenage boys have, for a very long time, been neglected in regard to teenage pregnancy. This is focused on promoting teenage parental rights to children. This has made the federal government agencies such as children focused organizations, gender-based organizations as well as the States to step up their child support mechanisms, efforts and enforcement to curb the increasing teenage pregnancy issue. This has led to an increased awareness on the broken bridge between young teenage mothers and their counterparts.
This has heightened the increase in the development of young fathers teenage mentorship programs which are aimed to train them about their responsibility as fathers and at the same time, to assist them avoid engaging in more sexual activities that may lead to other pregnancies. The need to realize that these young men have an increasing sexual drive calls for the need to approach them on a module of pregnancy prevention rather than sexual activity avoidance.
This recognition of the neglected teen pregnancy puzzle where boys and men lack recognition as key elements in the prevention efforts has led to much development over the past few years. At least almost forty states have implemented or are planning to implement strategies to prevent unwanted pregnancies or too early fatherhood (Sauls and Glassley, 2003, p. 27). This is according to The National Center for Children in Poverty.
On the other hand, over half of these states are adopting community or school based initiatives which are pro-male teen so as to enable prevention of teen pregnancy as well as to curb the same. One of the most commendable practices within some of these states is the development of a curriculum for middle class school students to teach responsible fatherhood.
Over the past years, family clinics have also been very instrumental in teaching young mothers on how to raise their kids as well as how to prevent further pregnancies. These clinics have broken their traditional approach and have also introduced programs for young men and teen fathers as well. Community based programs led by men have also been very effective where adolescent boys and teen fathers are given the platform to interact with adult men and fathers.
This program is very effective in streamlining fatherhood responsibilities to these young fathers as it gives them a more pragmatic opportunity to discuss their difficulties in passage to manhood and responsible fatherhood at the same time.
This helps the young boys a great deal for they learn from the experienced adult men and fathers who guide them at every step of the way not as a parent figure but as a big brother figure which is more lenient to the teen fathers and boys for it gives them the privilege to feel and act mature which has been very effective.
The most recent development has been in the male juvenile centers where the criminal justice system is also playing part in prevention efforts of early pregnancy as well as teen fatherhood responsibility (Rowen, Wilsherl, Shaw and Rager, 2005, p. 230). Media campaigns on the other hand have come a long way in prevention of further pregnancies among the teens and this has been through encouraging teen boys to abstain from sexual intercourse or to either use contraception if they are sexually active.
The recognition of the increased sexual behavior by the media is very fruitful in avoiding such unwanted pregnancies at the same time advocating for responsible parenting campaigns which discourage young mothers from giving up their children for adoption as well as encouraging the young fathers to assist their female counterparts to take care of the children together and offer emotional support.
The ultimate goal for these mentorship programs is to assist the young men (teen boys and teen fathers) to understand the basic principles about creating a family and taking their rightful positions and responsibilities as men to both their children and wives (teen mothers).
Some of the basic principles intended for the young men include: the capacity to know that it takes two to create a pregnancy therefore each party should be held responsible for their sexual behavior. This seeks to instill a responsibility mental image to young fathers where they take up their roles as fathers to their children.
The programs also seek to lure the young men to be the responsible and the cautious ones with their sexual partners where they should make sure before intercourse they either use condoms (most preferred contraception method) or they make sure that their sexual counterparts (teen girls) have taken adequate and less harmful but effective contraceptive pills. Thus these programs enlighten the young fathers and boys to take up their role as responsible fathers and to uphold integrity as well as be cautious towards their sexual partners.
This is because male partners have strong influence over the decisions made by their counterparts (teen girls) about sex and contraception. They are also enlightened that it is a criminal offence to engage teen girls into sex so the older they are, the more they will be held criminally accountable (Brindis, Barenbaum, Sanchez-Flores, Mccarter and Chand, 2005, p. 44).
The mentorship programs also seek to develop these young men as responsible fathers as well as responsible community members by offering them education, skills, employment opportunities and hope which is aimed at building self-respect and self-determination to the young fathers in a bid to carry out their responsibilities both as responsible fathers and community members. This is also geared to respect their counterparts (teen mothers) and offer the necessary support to her and the children as well.
To tap into these young men and fathers, there is a need to understand how they think and react under certain conditions or pressures especially the ones related to sex and parenting. For instance, teen boys below the age of 14 years are more likely to listen and comply with what their parents or adults tell them and this is called male-invulnerability. On the other hand, teens at their later ages tend to develop a more realistic sense of the risks associated with sexual behaviors.
Though there are other underlying conditions which need to be addressed in the mentorship programs such as family environment, class, race, family attitudes, sexual partners’ views and opinions towards them. The programs should also seek to help these young fathers realize their full potentials as well as their contributions to the world which would help them be mature and rational when making decisions pertaining to issues like abortion and regard to human life.
They also need to understand how to develop their sense of identity. The programs also need to address the pursuit for autonomy and independence for these teen fathers as well as their relationship connections with their families (Ngu and Florsheim, 2011, p. 196). This as well wills increase their understanding and approach to their sexual activities, contraceptive use and the responsibility they owe to their children and teen-mothers.
The programs seek to use a number of techniques so as to be in a position to lure the young fathers into accepting their rightful responsibilities as parents. There is a dire need for the mentors to first understand the language these teens use. That is, they should speak the cultural language of participating boys and teens.
This is because often teens tune out certain messages that do not sound credible. Therefore, the need for the mentors to learn and understand the teen language for it is through this that the teen fathers/boys gain credibility and meaning of what their mentors want to say and it creates a depth meaning to them.
Therefore, these programs should always seek to ask questions and at the same time learn what teen boys think, what it is that excites them, what it is that they yearn to become in future and from this the program’s curriculum can be well conditioned to these preferences and tastes among these young boys.
This approach gets the teens to perceive and decipher the intended message thus the program becomes successful in its own right. For the example, Los Compadres which is located in Santa Barbara (California) has a mentorship program which teaches young men and teen fathers the true meaning of being a responsible man (Government of Alberta, 2009, p. 1).
The other tactic the mentors use/should use is to teach these teen fathers and boys on how to understand, communicate as well as respect women (teen mothers/teen girls).
This approach should engage supervised mixed sex peer groups where these two groups, teen fathers and boys are mixed with teen mothers and teen girls and are taught together on how to respect and communicate with each other (Rowen, Wilsherl, Shaw and Robin, 2005, p. 230).
This should be coupled with plays and acts demonstrating different scenarios which involve pregnancy issues, abortion issues, respect of life issues, fatherhood and motherhood responsibilities towards the children and child rights.
Real life scenarios should also be brought forth where experienced persons who got pregnant at teenage should be invited to give talks and guidance to these young ones from a realistic point of view which is very effective. Such peer-to-peer learning sessions do have a very big impact for they assist young mothers and fathers to accept the underlying facts and take responsibilities for their actions.
One of the hurdles faced by these programs is the consistency of the teen/boys attendance and adherence to advice taken. This is because naturally, men and boys are usually hard to reach out to as well as to get them to understand certain issue especially where respect is paramount (Sauls and Glassley, 2003, p. 27).
The fact that boys are also generally reluctant creates a need to invest in high quality staff and mentors who are well versed with situations of dealing with adolescent groups since there is a high need for mobilizing a group composed of teen boys for such a group can be hectic to handle if one does not understand the mechanics of handling such a group since this can lead to disillusionment to the mentors and at times they may even quit.
Therefore, the staff should be composed of highly intelligent, charismatic, not-easily intimidated and sharp mentors to spear head such programs.
The increase of mentorship programs for young men, teen-fathers and teen boys on the issue of pregnancy comes at an opportune time where the HIV epidemic and other sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase among the teenagers. Therefore, there is the need for the public heath pioneers to continue encouraging males to use condoms which are the best contraceptive for avoiding both pregnancy and STDs.
This shows there is a major concern to recognize the role of male in teen pregnancy. A good example is the Family Service Providers whose earlier programs focused on mothers and their children such as Head Start has started to reach out to fathers (Agrassroots Fatherhood Movement) which is led by small community-based support groups which are focusing on teaching, training and advising young boys on consequences of early pregnancy as well as the ways on how to be a responsible father in case one of the teens is a father already.
These mentorship programs of teen fathers have become very effective both in the family setting and responsible fatherhood for it has made the programming of girls more effective when addressing the teen pregnancy issue where both teens engaging in sexual activities are aware of the underlying consequences which create responsibility between the two.
This brings in a developed mutual relationship where these teens focus is diverted from being negative to being positive while looking at the bright side of things such as the programs help the parties to recognize that the child is a gift and not a curse nor a disadvantage. “Consequently, successful mentoring programs must include a component designed to encourage parental support and involvement in their teen’s lives” (Rowen, Wilsherl, Shaw-Perry and Robin, 2005, p. 227).
Brindis, D, Barenbaum, M, Sanchez-Flores, H, Mccarter, V and Chand, R. (2005) “Let’s Hear It for the Guys: California’s Male Involvement Program.” International Journal of Men’s Health 4.1: 29-53. Print.
Government of Alberta. (2009) High School Teen Mentoring Handbook. Alberta Advanced Education & Technology. Alberta, CA: Alberta Advanced Education and Technology, Print.
Ngu, L and Paul F. (2011) “Among Young High-Risk Fathers across the Transition to Parenthood.” Family Process 50.2: 184-202. Print.
Rowen, W, Shaw-Perry, M and Rager, R. (2005) “Essential Components of a Mentoring Program for Pregnant and Parenting Teens.” American Journal of Health Studies 20.4: 225-232. Print.
Sauls, D and Glassley, J. (2003) “Development of the Adolescent Support Model.” The Journal of Theory Construction & Testing 15.1 (n.d): 24-30. Print.