I'd like to add my two cents to this topic smile
Way back in caveman times, twenty year olds were the "old people" of the time. If people in those days had waited until they were 18 to have kids, humans wouldn't be around today. Humans haven't changed much since those times. Biologically, the ideal age to have children would be (as mentioned earlier in this thread) around 19 years of age. I personally would tip that scale to closer to the 17/18 side than the 20/21 side though. A womans body is fully mature before a mans body is, and some women actually mature earlier than others... being biologically mature before they're 15. So... young mothers are doing what mother nature actually intended, which is having babies while they're at the optimal age to have them - at the age when they will be most physically capable of coping with not only having the baby, but raising that child to adulthood without putting too large a stress on their bodies.
As a teenager, particularly in the late teens, it's biologically difficult to NOT get pregnant for most women who aren't using contraceptives. Once they hit the mid twenties, it starts to become more difficult to conceive. It gradually gets more difficult to conceive and/or carry a child from then on, until you hit that magic Four Oh number, when it's statistically almost frigging impossible for a normal woman to get pregnant without assistance.
It has become fashionable to try to have children after having made a success of your life... "I'll have a baby once I've reached this goal" or "I'll have children once we're financially stable"... even "I'll have a child once the mortgage is fully paid off and we're totally debt free". The sentiment is noble. However, it has meant that women have stopped trying to have children until they reach these goals, which has meant a lot of women have suddenly realised that they are physically incapable of getting pregnant, or they need to spend a lot of money on fertility treatment.
Women can have this problem anyway, I realise that. However, waiting until that problem will become a certainty not only makes the task of getting pregnant more difficult and more expensive, it also makes the task that much closer to unattainable. A woman who would have needed IVF to get pregnant at 20 will find it harder to get pregnant even WITH IVF at 30, and close to impossible at 40. Fertility problems don't get better the longer you wait, as I'm sure some here realise.
I started late. I didn't want children initially. In fact, I was rabidly anti having children until my wedding night! My first pregnancy (at 28) I got pregnant within months. That child - despite keeping an eye on food intake/general care and getting who knows how many blood tests and scans, resulted in a stillbirth. (No, I'm not looking for pity - some women here have been through a lot worse than that!) My second pregnancy took close to two years before I actually managed to get pregnant. My third pregnancy, I needed to get professional help in order to get pregnant. If I had started earlier, according to the doctors, I would have had no problems at all in getting pregnant (no ideas whether I would have had problems with the stillbirth, as they never found the cause)
As far as dangers involved with younger women giving birth? Yes, there are dangers. If the girl who gets pregnant is six years old, there are dangers. If the girl who gets pregnant doesn't take care of herself, there are dangers/ If the girl who gets pregnant does so to keep a relationship that is falling apart together, there are dangers - albeit more along the lines of a long term issue rather than an immediate problem. However... if a woman gets pregnant at 30 and refuses to eat well, there are dangers. If a woman of 30 gets pregnant to save a relationship, there are long term problems. If a woman of 30 does anything a girl of 16 does that can cause a problem with pregnancy (such as not taking the pregnancy seriously and getting checkups or making sure things are going well) then both will face the same dangers. These aren't youth-specific issues. They are pregnancy-specific issues... and in fact, some, like poor diet, are life-specific issues.
As far as the baby bonus bull, my second child I got the baby bonus, but only because the doctor had organised for me to be induced shortly after the date the bonus started - we had specified we wanted to be induced earlier, but he picked the date that was best for the hospital. My own family have accused me of only having children for the bonus! So, not only strangers can lend this trash credence! I personally blame the media for whipping the whole thing up into a storm. I don't know HOW they find so many women who are having children specifically for the baby bonus... and honestly, I don't know how women can be stupid enough to believe that the baby bonus can make up for the amount of money those children will end up soaking up in the next few years, let alone their whole lifetime! How on earth people can find the funds to spare for buying trash like Plasma TVs etc when their "sole income" was supposedly the baby bonus and Centrelink, I don't know. I would love a Plasma TV. Actually, I'd love another TV so we can actually watch TV LOL My older son has claimed our TV for his movies, since our landlord doesn't believe in things like fixing fences to make the outdoors safe for children to run around outside and play.
IMO what makes a good parent is love for their child, doing their best to ensure their child grows up healthy and confident, and that the child knows that they are cared for. I believe in discipline, and I also believe that the occasional treat is a good thing. I also believe that parents should be allowed to be parents... and not be constantly told how they're "doing things wrong". What works for one family doesn't necessarily work for the next family, and while I may not agree with the way one parent raises their child(ren), as long as those children are healthy and happy, it's not my place to get in their way. I expect to be able to raise my children in the way I believe is best, and don't want others to constantly tell me what I'm doing wrong, and as such, I should offer the same courtesy to them.
Just my thoughts on the matter anyway smile