With teenage pregnancy at its lowest rate for more than 40 years, a Teesside University academic is challenging the popular stereotype of the teenager mother.
Far from being "prophets of doom" as teenage mothers are often depicted, Dr Lisa Arai, a Senior Lecturer in Research Methods in the School of Health & Social Care, says the majority of teenage mothers enjoy motherhood - and that their lives do not change drastically as a result of having a baby.
New data has shown that the teenage pregnancy rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1969.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show conceptions in under-18s fell to 34,633 in 2010 compared with 38,259 in 2009, a drop of 9.5%.
Dr Arai, who has published a book "Teenage Pregnancy: The Making and Unmaking of a Problem", believes that more needs to be done to challenge the stereotype of teenage mothers.
– Dr Arai, Teesside University
"Overall the teenage fertility rate has been steadily falling since the 1970's and contrary to popular belief, we just don't have a teenage pregnancy crisis in this country. The media depiction of an epidemic of teenage motherhood is not justified.
"The teenage mother is portrayed as a prophet of doom who symbolises everything that is wrong within our society. But one thing that strikes me when I have interviewed teenage mothers is how happy they are and how much they enjoy motherhood. Their lives are actually affected very little by having a baby and they see motherhood as a happy and rewarding experience."
Dr Arai suggests that Government policy has always been anti-teenage pregnancy and she believes that evidence is often "cherry-picked" to suit the agenda.
She says the challenge is in changing the stereotype, making people realise that the teenage mother is not a burden on society and in fact motherhood can be enjoyed at any age.