Emotional geographies of four pregnant school teenagers : a narrative inquiry.
Mkhathini, Audrey Sibongile.
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The focus of this study was to explore the experiences of pregnant teenagers within the schooling spaces and places of a high school in Pinetown. The study incorporated a social constructionist paradigm, children’s geographies and new sociology of childhood studies to shed insight into the ways in which pregnant teenagers experience schooling, their views about the support they needed and how they negotiate these schooling spaces. A qualitative methodology was adopted in which semi-structured interviews and a participatory research method, photo voice were utilized with the participants. The study found that pregnant teenagers’ were confronted with complex and often contradictory demands of having to balance schooling, pregnancy and the associated disruptions. These were found to have adverse effects on the quality of schooling experiences of the participants, as they had to go an extra mile to navigate the challenges of stigma, loss of time and lack of support. The study also revealed that pregnant teenagers valued their education and enjoyed schooling, factors which bolstered their commitment to overcome resistances that prevented them from attending school. Such obstacles included their lack of participation in class decision making, ignorance displayed by teachers during lessons and often being ridiculed and dominated by their peers. These barriers were found to have relegated the participants to an environment of loneliness and lack of friendships with peers. The findings revealed that pregnant teenagers had a tendency to develop negative attitudes about themselves, which impeded their assertiveness to seek the help and support they required. Notwithstanding, the study found that pregnant teenagers used various mechanisms to cope with schooling and pregnancy demands. These included seeking friendly relationships with other girls in order to secure peer support, listening attentively in class as they are aware that their schooling might soon be disrupted when they went to give birth, being more respectful to their parents (and relatives) to solicit parental care and support.