Published: 00:01, 19 September 2014
A teenage mum branded a “slut” after she fell pregnant at 16 is taking a stand for girls like herself, who suffer abuse and prejudice.
Beauty student Bethany Luney found herself a target at school and was later abused when she pushed her son around the streets of Canterbury in his buggy.
She says boys would even try to trip her up when she was pregnant and called her “slag” and “slut” in the street.
But now the 17-year-old is hitting back in a bid to tackle the stigma that surrounds young mums who are often branded irresponsible and benefits scroungers.
Single mum Bethany, of Hales Place, is a member of Canterbury Young Active Parents Group, supported by the charity Fixers, which aims to give a voice to young people.
Recently, another member of the group, 16-year-old Rebecca Clout, who fell pregnant at 13, spoke of the hostility and abuse she faced.
Now they are challenging the negative perceptions about them with the campaign slogan “We’re Young Mums Not Monsters”.
As part of the campaign, young mums walked through the city centre dressed as monsters to highlight the message.
Bethany admits that having a baby so young is not something she would recommend to fellow teens.
But she says she bonded with Theo immediately and now, aged one, he is the love of her life.
"I’ve had a lot of negative and offensive comments when pushing Theo around Canterbury, with people calling me a slag or slut and telling me I’m not capable of being a mother" - Rebecca Clout
She said: “Finding out I was pregnant was very scary, but there was no question of me having a termination.
“I was at Canterbury High School and when everyone found out, some people were mean to me. Some boys even tried to trip me up, even though they knew I was pregnant.
“But I was determined to continue my education even though I didn’t like going into school.
“I managed to get a couple of GSCEs, but also a few BTEC qualifications, and am now studying beauty therapy at Canterbury College. I’m lucky because my mum looks after Theo when I’m at college.
“But I’ve had a lot of negative and offensive comments when pushing Theo around Canterbury, with people calling me a slag or slut and telling me I’m not capable of being a mother.
“Actually, I think I’m a very good mum and it’s nothing to do with age.
“It has made me grow up much quicker and, of course, I miss out on things other young girls do, but I wouldn’t change it. I just want to do well on my course and eventually get a good job to provide for Theo.”