2010. 13 p.
Culture, Health and Sexuality, 12 (8), pp. 871-883
South African law forbids excluding pregnant teenagers from school and permits young parents to continue with their schooling. However, the existence of progressive policy and law does not by itself ensure that pregnant teenagers and young parents remain in school or experience as little disruption to their studies as possible. Two of the factors influencing the experiences that pregnant girls and young parents have are the attitudes and practices of teachers. We explore how teachers in diverse South African secondary schools respond to young women's pregnancy and parenting. Teachers' responses are situated within a complex set of meanings invoking sexuality (and sexual censure), gender, class and race. We argue that many teachers view teenage pregnancy and parenting as social problems – a domain of sexual shame with negative effects and disruptive to the academic life of the school (including teachers and other learners). Teachers do not monolithically subscribe to such negativity and, in the context of changing policy and gender equality, there are glimmers of hope. Without much support, training or any formal school-based support, many teachers show care and concern for pregnant women and young parents, providing some hope for better experiences of schooling.
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