A Enniskillen woman will feature on a UTV programme looking at the issues surrounding teenage pregnancy in Northern Ireland.
Margaret McCluskey, who was suspended from her Enniskillen Grammar School shortly before her GCSE's, because she was pregnant will appear on the second programme in the series, on Thursday 27 July at 7.30pm. Margaret was allowed to return to school after the baby was born and went on to do her A levels and study at Cambridge University. She later went on to accuse the school of sex discrimination and in 2003 her case was settled out of court, with the school admitting the offence and paying compensation to Margaret.
The programmes come in response to the fact Northern Ireland has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe. The first programme in Teenage Kicks will be shown on Thursday 20 July at 19.30.
Programme One focuses on teenage mothers Sabrina Moore and Carla Kennedy from Belfast, Debbie McMaster from Ballymena and Alison Elliott from Broughshane who - now in her thirties - had her first son when she was just 18.
Sabrina was just 14 when she discovered she was pregnant. She went to one ante-natal class but it was full of older mothers-to-be and she felt they were all looking down at her, so she didn't go back. She is now 19 and expecting her second child.
Carla was 17 when she became pregnant while still living at home with her parents. She tells how she ended up moving into a home of her own as she felt the newborn baby put a strain on the rest of the family. Financially, Carla is finding it hard to make ends meet and she has lost touch with many of her friends because she is no longer free to go out and socialise.
Debbie was 16 when she discovered she was pregnant. She said sex was a taboo subject among her friends and she and her boyfriend didn't talk about the possibility of her becoming pregnant until it was too late.
Alison remembers how nervous she was telling her parents she was pregnant as she felt she had let them down. She hated the fact that everyone in the small community where she lived was talking about her. Alison now has three teenage sons and is determined that they don't become young dads. She talks to them about their sexual health and the importance of respecting their girlfriends.
Programme Two looks at the issue from a teenage dad's point of view. Darren McGinley from Derry was 15 when his girlfriend became pregnant. He was worried about what their parents would say, about his education, job prospects and lack of money. He thought about walking away but he couldn't leave his newborn daughter. Darren is now a devoted dad, and spends as much time as possible with his daughter.
Margaret talks about teenage pregnancy in Northern Ireland.
Publication Fermanagh Herald
Date July 20, 2006
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