The Washington Post asked two experts on teen-age pregnancy to comment on the issues raised in this series of reports. JOYCE LADNER
Ladner, 42, is professor of sociology at Howard University's School of Social Work, researching teen-age pregnancy in Washington. She chaired Mayor Barry's Blue Ribbon Panel on Teenage Pregnancy Prevention.
On crime in poor, black urban communities:
*Adults see their surroundings as hostile, uncaring, unsympathetic, alien, extremely dangerous, callous and indifferent." In her research, Ladner has met children who she feels are socially undeveloped because they are kept indoors. "That is the only way parents feel they can keep control."
On the effects of violence on children: In poor communities, children "relate to violence early" in their lives and become "numb to it. They're surrounded by it. These kids don't see people get old and die of natural causes anymore. They see people die from violence more often . . . .The hazards of the environment are so severe that the child grows up very early knowing what the pitfalls are. Everyone [outside the home] becomes a potential threat." HARRIETTE PIPES MCADOO
McAdoo, 45, is professor of research at Howard University's School of Social Work, studying teen-age pregnancy in Washington.
On motivations: "There are many, many reasons that people get pregnant, and spite, anger, wanting to get back at somebody for something would be considered [legitimate reasons]. They could have the baby out of spite to get back at the mother, to get back at the boy[friend] and try to hold the boy down." The same reasons can be true for adult women. "Getting pregnant and having a baby is not a rational process. It's a very emotional process."
On why more teen-age couples don't marry: Even after getting pregnant, girls still fantasize about someone better -- "Prince Charming," in McAdoo's words -- coming along to rescue them. Marriage no longer represents "the security that many women used to think of because [adolescents] know most of the people who get married may get divorced. If the marriage fails, then [the mothers] may be stuck with three or four kids that they then have to support [alone]."