This book is based on the author's series of Washington Post articles on teen-age pregnancy in the ghetto. For over a year,...

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WHEN CHILDREN WANT CHILDREN: The Urban Crisis of Teenage Childbearing

This book is based on the author's series of Washington Post articles on teen-age pregnancy in the ghetto. For over a year, reporter Dash lived in a roach-infested basement apartment in Washington Highlands, the poorest neighborhood in our nation's capital, befriending and conducting multiple interviews with teen-age mothers, their mothers, and, when possible, the grandparents. He found that the girls got pregnant not from ignorance or a desire to tap into welfare money--but from a desire to have a baby. Dash discovered that there is tremendous peer pressure on teen-age girls in the black underclass to become sexually active and to produce a child. Virgins and childless girls are teased mercilessly by their girlfriends for being ""barren."" Several girls became terrified that they were infertile, and became pregnant simply to prove that they weren't. Most of the girls wanted children to have ""something to love,"" while the boys embraced fatherhood as proof of manhood. Although the girls intended to be ""good mothers,"" they frequently became impatient and abusive, just as their parents had been with them. Despite free access to contraceptives, despite courses on sex and birth control, many girls eschewed contraception as dangerous: a cause of ""cancer"" and ""infections."" They tried to avoid welfare, remaining in their families' crowded apartments or living with a working male (sometimes, but not necessarily, the father). Dash believes the prevalence of teen-age pregnancies in the black ghetto to be a hold-over from sharecropping days--when children were ""economic assets"" and young bachelors seeking a sharecropping spread were happy to wed teen-age mothers whom they could present to a potential landlord as ""proven breeders"" of future field-hands. An important and eye-opening document: of interest to everyone concerned with urban poverty.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1988

ISBN: 0252071239

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988