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When Children Want Children: THE URBAN CRISIS OF TEENAGE CHILDBEARING Paperback – May 1, 2003


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When Children Want Children: THE URBAN CRISIS OF TEENAGE CHILDBEARING + Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1 edition (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252071239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252071232
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Washington Post reporter Dash moved into the ghetto community of Washington Highlands, his behind-the-scenes viewpoint resulted in an award-winning report on adolescent childbearing, a problem of shocking dimensions. As he talked to teenage parents, many of his preconceptions about the high incidence of pregnancy among poor, black urban youth were proved wrong. What became depressingly clear is that for these youngsters, "a baby is a tangible achievement in an otherwise dreary and empty future," a rite of passage with historical antecedents. In exploring why so many black teenagers are caught up in the syndrome and its devastating consequences, Dash became more than a working reporter. At times confidant and friend, he has written a sociological report that reaches to the roots of early childbearing patterns.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Growing out of a fine series that reporter Dash did for the Washington Post in 1986, this book focuses on young black parents in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood. Dash's first-hand observations and sustained interviewing over a 17-month period led to his understanding that the pregnancies did not just "happen." Rather, these young adolescents consciously conceived children, for social status, for self-realization, and, Dash concludes, for a host of other complex, underlying reasons. An engrossing work about the nature of a pattern that extends beyond the particular individuals whose hopes and feelings Dash so vividly portrays. For professionals, academics, and lay readers. Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hui Dong on March 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
When Children Want Children: The Urban Crisis of Teenage Childbearing, by Leon Dash.

Not everyone lives in an area where education and money are both available, where people don't have to fight poverty and famine. Not everyone can compare to the struggle of keeping a reputation at school, determined by if you're a virgin or not. Not everyone can live their childhood and teenage years, surrounded by innocence and aspirations.

When Children Want Children, by Leon Dash, is a nonfiction novel that follows the story of many teenage girls living in the Washington Highlands, in the 1980s. The Washington Highlands is an urban area, where poor black families fight for survival, while attempting to "properly" raise their numerous children. These scenarios may be difficult for each and every reader to connect with, but Dash, surprisingly, begins describing his personal history, as long as how he was affected, and why he was particularly interested in the topic of teenage childbearing.

Dash didn't just interview several teenage mothers. He traced their family, and even friends, back generations, to a pattern of teenage mothers. Each story may have been surrounded by a protective shell, but as you read further on, these girls break the walls, sharing explicit details and emotions of their situations. Each "victim" tells their unique tales. Some girls were sexually assaulted and traumatized, others fell into peer pressure, yet others rebelled against strict rules set by their parents.

In this book, Dash used countless descriptive details to recreate scenes. During some interviews, the parents and kids started arguing.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Herbert L Calhoun on December 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
In this investigative journalism gem, award winning Washington Post reporter, Leon Dash, primarily on the advice of Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame), re-interviewed his subjects not once or twice, or even three times, but at least six times. As Woodward had so sagely suggested, after the sixth interview, the story of the teenage mothers in the Washington Highlands ghetto, where Dash lived for over a year, not only began to change but did so drastically.

After three interviews, Dash was ready to go to print without realizing he had been thoroughly "conned" by these sexually savvy teenage mothers, who had used their (and society's) favorite cover stories as their primary defense. They said that they had become pregnant because "they lacked knowledge about birth control methods;" or because it "was what their boyfriends wanted them to do;" or that "they had sex only because they feared they would lose their boyfriends if they refused, and thus became pregnant out of ignorance, etc."

However, after the sixth interview, all of the cover stories began to give way to the true motives behind these scripted pregnancies carefully engineered by very sex savvy teenagers.

By the sixth interview, to a woman, Dash's subjects, began to admit that they had all lied about the true reasons for their pregnancies, and said that the real reasons they had become pregnant were because: (1) They had become bored with, and felt left out of life and needed someone to love them unconditionally. (2) They felt they were losing control over their boyfriends because they saw themselves getting fat, ugly, and thus sexually unattractive, and having a baby was a sure way of better controlling their men.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By reenum on July 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Very unlike Rosa Lee, in that this book reads like an account of Dash's experiences rather than a telling of the young women's stories. He did well abandoning this approach in Rosa Lee.
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