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Teen Pregnancy and Parenting

Teen Pregnancy and Parenting: Social and Ethical Issues

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 190
  • Book Info
    Teen Pregnancy and Parenting
    Book Description:

    Nine original essays explore the many factors affecting how Canadian society responds to, and creates, the phenomenon of teen parenting. A challenges to assumptions about the circumstances, consequences and experience of teen parenting.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8041-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-2)

    This volume presents multidisciplinary perspectives on teen pregnancy and parenting as a social issue. For some time already this issue has been getting political and scholarly attention in the United States, but increasingly it is also being discussed in Canada and other countries. This book grew out of a conference on the same theme in May 1996 that was organized through the Ethics Centre at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto.

    Teen (single) parenting is widely considered to be a social problem. One pressing question is: What should social policy be on this matter? Despite wide agreement that teen (single) parenting...

  6. 1 Teen Parenting and Canadiansʹ Values
    (pp. 3-9)

    The questions raised by teen parenting are questions about the way we as a society construct our responsibilities towards children. Questions about teen parenting are therefore policy questions; they also fundamentally involve questions about values. In policy debates about social issues, the questions are often framed as purely technical questions of, say, how much money we can afford to spend. In fact, however, deep value considerations shape the policy choices we make and condition our understanding of the current political will to take action.

    This chapter discusses the findings of a recent project that explored Canadiansʹ values about the kind...

  7. 2 What Do We Know about Unmarried Mothers?
    (pp. 10-24)

    For the past decade and more, considerable public debate has occurred on the well-being, rights, and responsibilities of unmarried mothers and their families. These are families where conformity to the ideal family type of heterosexual marriage followed by the birth of children does not occur. Rather, parenthood occurs first and may or may not be followed by marriage. At times, the discussions about these families have not been well informed but have relied on partial and anecdotal information. The most disadvantaged groups of unmarried mothers, for example, the very young teenaged mothers and poor urban minorities, are often the focus...

  8. 3 Day-to-Day Ethical Issues in the Care of Young Parents and Their Children
    (pp. 25-37)

    Everyone ʹknowsʹ that it is bad for teenagers to have babies. They will abuse them, abuse welfare, and be a drain on society. Programs aimed at preventing teen pregnancies may operate with these preconceptions as a basis. Certainly, many people in our society are eager to approach young mothers in public and castigate them for having children. Many of the teen mothers who come to our clinic have been told by strangers: ʹYouʹre too young to have a babyʹ; ʹWhy should my tax dollars support you just because you wanted to have sex?ʹ; ʹDonʹt you know anything? Your baby will...

  9. 4 ʹOn My Ownʹ: A New Discourse of Dependence and Independence from Teen Mothers
    (pp. 38-51)

    The subject of teen mothers is almost invariably framed as a social problem, and much of the contemporary discourse about teen mothers draws on images and the language of stigmatized dependency (Griffin 1993; Kelly 1996; Lawson and Rhode 1993; Lesko 1995; Phoenix 1991a). Teen mothers are spoken of as ʹchildren having children,ʹ and as ʹwelfare dependents.ʹ Their situation as teenagers who have taken on adult status as mothers is said to pose problems either in the social psychological sense that they have not yet completed the tasks of adolescence (especially schooling), or in the financial sense that they have acquired...

  10. 5 A Critical Feminist Perspective on Teen Pregnancy and Parenthood
    (pp. 52-70)

    Public opinion polls in Canada tell us that our adults are every bit as concerned about teen pregnancy as our neighbours to the south. One survey found that 90 per cent of those polled believe ʹunwanted teenage pregnancies in Canada is a serious problemʹ (Bozinoff and Turcotte 1992). The pollsters phrased their question vaguely enough to elicit concern across the ideological spectrum, from those worried about access to contraception and abortion or sympathizing with a ʹgirl in troubleʹ to those perceiving a threat to taxpayers and the traditional family. In any event, pregnant teens, especially those who become mothers,¹ can...

  11. 6 Teenage Pregnancy: Social Construction?
    (pp. 71-80)

    Participants in this conference, and the authors in this volume, have taught us a lot about young unmarried mothers. From time to time social construction has cropped up, and has often seemed to lie at the edge of discussions, so I should like to examine it directly. Would it make sense, and be useful, to say that teenage pregnancy is a social construction? What would it mean? We hear so much talk about social construction nowadays that I would like to step back from the fray for a few minutes to examine these questions. I am not asking whether teenage...

  12. 7 How Should We Live? Some Reflections on Procreation
    (pp. 81-98)

    Teen pregnancy is currently defined as a public problem that begs for a solution. Given the pressing need, it may seem like philosophical foolishness to waste time pondering the large and perhaps unanswerable question of how we should live. Yet teen childbearing is an important part of more general questions about procreation, questions that are central to issues of how we should live.

    Procreation includes the responsibility of individuals, families, communities, and societies to raise a new generation that is as healthy and wise as can be. This is a responsibility to the future. Responsibilities of procreation are our joy...

  13. 8 The Construction of Teen Parenting and the Decline of Adoption
    (pp. 99-120)

    Once, long ago, I was a foster parent to a child given up for adoption but never adopted. Later as a policy analyst, I worked on developing a provincial foster care policy which, among other things, tried to take account of the fact that many of the children given up for adoption would not be white or perfect or ever adopted. Now, as an academic, I struggle to understand why, when, and how we allocate our social resources.

    In 1985 over a million teenage girls became pregnant in the United States; 46 per cent of these pregnancies resulted in live...

  14. 9 Changing High-Risk Policies and Programs to Reduce High-Risk Sexual Behaviours
    (pp. 121-150)

    Young people ʹgrowing up sexualʹ today experience sharply divergent and conflicted values concerning individual and collective rights and responsibilities. This leaves them often ill-prepared for personal relationships as well as their role as citizens, in a time of volatile social, political, and economic change. Personal and public values are intertwined. To strengthen each we must also strengthen the other, and the mutually reinforcing links between them, in working towards a more democratic, just society. The only potentially universal links are public policies and programs to support peopleʹs basic needs, thereby enabling them to avoid problems. Our experience in the promotion...

  15. 10 A Round-Table Discussion of Teen Parenting as a Social and Ethical Issue
    (pp. 151-175)

    The discussion was held 11 May 1996 at Oakham House, Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto.

    Kathryn Pyne Addelson, Philosophy, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts

    Laurie Bryden, Bay Centre for Birth Control, Regional Womenʹs Health Centre, Toronto

    David Checkland, Ethics Centre and Philosophy, Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto

    Susan Clark, Vice-President Academic, Brock University, St Catharines

    Ruth DaCosta, Executive Director, Covenant House, Toronto

    Linda Davies, Social Work, McGill University, Montreal

    Ian Hacking, Philosophy, University of Toronto

    Beverley Leaver, Jessieʹs Centre for Teenagers, Toronto

    Colin Maloney, Executive Director, Catholic Childrenʹs Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto

    Margaret McKinnon, Education, University of Ottawa

    Suzanne Peters, Canadian Policy...

  16. 11 On Choice, Responsibility, and Entitlement
    (pp. 176-184)

    Rhetoric frequently offered in support of currently fashionable policies diminishing the welfare state makes much of the ideas of choice and responsibility. Frequently one hears expressed the idea that teen parents have been irresponsible in choosing to parent (and perhaps also in choosing to be sexually active or have a child). This notion is often coupled with the idea that it is wrong of such people to demand or expect that others (namely, taxpayers) pay for their choices or mistakes. The underlying idea seems to be, as philosopher Hillel Steiner puts it, that ʹthe set of entitlements should reflect the...