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Teen Parents

Domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are all-too-common experiences for teens who are pregnant or have recently given birth.

Domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are all-too-common experiences for teens who are pregnant or have recently given birth. The Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence have developed a toolkit for professionals in order to better work with adolescents who are pregnant or are parents. The toolkit includes discipline specific guidelines for Domestic Violence Advocates. The goal of the guidelines is to present an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to service delivery in order to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting survivors to prevent these forms of victimization.

The strategies in the WA Toolkit were developed by advocates to enhance the services programs provide and to promote advocates’ leadership in developing an integrated community response. Some practical suggestions include:

  • Let teen survivors/young people/people with the capacity for pregnancy know about birth control options that are less likely to be interfered with by an abusive partner

  • Understand how reproductive coercion affects the young people and  teens you help

  • Don’t assume gender pronouns and use gender-neutral language when referring to the parenting teen and their partner

  • Help survivors handle trauma triggers that may affect their participation in health care or their experience of childbirth, breastfeeding, and parenting

  • Connect with support professionals such as midwives and doulas who can support birthing teens/people who have experienced trauma

  • Reach out to community partners to create a “safety net” of effective, LGBTQIA+ informed services for pregnant and parenting survivors

  • Reprinted from Pregnant Survivors

Questions to consider when working with teen parents:

  • Is your program prepared to support teen parents of all genders who have experienced violence?

  • Does your program provide health and sex education support for teen parents?

  • Does your program provide opportunities for teens to discuss experiences of violence?

  • Does your program have the resources to provide services for teens who may have experienced or been exposed to violence as children? Are there staff trained to support teen parents with healing strategies in order to break intergenerational cycles of trauma and violence?

  • Does your program provide information about appropriate emergency or long-term service for pregnant teens or teen parents?

  • Does your program have trauma-informed procedures in place specifically for pregnant or parenting teens?

  • Does your program offer or partner with other agencies that offer parenting education or support teen parents with learning more about child development?

  • Can your program support the development of healthy co-parenting relationships and strategies where possible and safe?

  • Does your program have a referral list of ongoing parenting, educational, employment, health, and support services for teens?

    • Does your program partner with community based health clinics to create a referral and service network?