It was in a climate of pregnant girls dropping out of the school system,
their life script written off, their offspring facing the crisis of
deprivation, and Jamaica, much the poorer because of the loss of its
human resource, that the Teenage Mothers Project (TMP) was
The project was funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation and operated
by the Center for Early Childhood Education of the University of the
As programs unfurled it became crystal clear that there was a set of
variables which impacted significantly on the problem, some of which
were not being adequately addressed. Among them were:
- family life education
- guidance counseling in schools
- irresponsible male behavior
- parent child relationships
There was a need to broaden the organization's scope for more effective
service delivery, and out of this emerged a registered company, Rural
Family Support Organization which targets three main family issues:
Teenage Pregnancy, Male Adolescents, and Child Development. The
organization's sphere of influence spreads from Clarendon to adjacent
parishes of Manchester and St. Catherine.
"The family as the basic unit of society, especially as the natural
environment of the children's growth and well being, has the most
important duty to foster and protect children during the process of
development from babyhood to adolescence."
--The World Summit 1990
Teen Age Mothers
The Jamaican society has been experiencing a steady decline in the
standard of family life and this is having far reaching effects not
only on the academic achievement of children but on their total behavior.
An increasing number of nuclear, sibling, visiting relationship and
single parent families have replaced the original family structures.
As is expected, these new family types lack the support and assistance
in parenting and cultural socialization which were traditionally
present in the extended family.
The change in family structure has also seen an increasing number of
teenage parents who are not adequately trained and prepared for the
task of motherhood.
The growing number of teenage mothers must be viewed within the
context of problems facing the poor of our society.
Teenage pregnancy cannot be seen in isolation, it must be viewed within
the context of the many social ills which now plague the Jamaican
society. Research (Jarrett, Knight 1988) shows that a lack of parental
guidance, low self esteem and unstable family structure are three major
factors which are responsible for the high incidence of teenage pregnancy.
The single most important factor which has contributed significantly to
the problem is men's attitude towards sexual relationships.
Rural Family Support Organisation
2 Brooks Edge (Off Brooks Ave.)
May Pen, Clarendon
The UAP2 Programme