The role of social support and re-enrolment of teenage mothers in school in creating resilience among teenage mothers: A case of Pader Girls School
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Despite several attempts to eliminate teenage pregnancy over the years, the rates of teenage pregnancy are still rampantly increasing. This qualitative study with a cross-sectional design explored the role that social support and re-enrolment of teenage mothers in school play in creating resilience among teenage mothers with an aim of generating coping mechanisms for the teenage mothers. The experiences of teenage mothers in the year after pregnancy were examined because of the cross-sectional design of the study that limited studying the teenage mothers over time (immediately after pregnancy and later after re-enrolment in school). Their experiences were therefore examined to give a clear picture of what the teenage mothers went through and how they felt immediately after pregnancy so as to enable a comparison with their current feelings and experiences. Individual face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with eight teenage mothers, key informant interviews with two administrators, and two focus group discussions, one with student-mothers and the other with non-student mothers with eight and twelve respondents respectively. Data collected was presented and analysed into themes. Dropping out of school, running away from home, being chased away from home, acceptance, disappointment, sickness and body weakness, name-calling and judgement from the community members, and giving birth were the experiences that the teenage mothers in this study faced in the year after pregnancy. As a result, they developed a sense of responsibility and maturity, became happy after seeing their babies, embraced a second chance to education, and become focused on their lives after pregnancy and this made them resilient. Social support enabled them to receive advice that made them stronger, enabled them to be paid for school fees once again, made their parents keep their pregnancies a secret from the community members hence making them resilient. Re-enrolment in school made them envision a bright future, become ambitious, exhibit a better performance, enabled them to receive advice from teachers, become confident before the community members, reduce their chances of getting second pregnancies and gave them a conducive learning environment and this impacted on their resilience. However, social support did not impact on some people’s lives in any way and others remained in regret even after re-enrolling in school. Spirituality, being focused and having courage were reported as key coping mechanisms used by teenage mothers. Government should set policies to ensure re-enrolment of teenage mothers in school and more schools that embrace teenage mothers should be constructed. Prevention of pregnancies should however remain a priority.