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340 PART FOUR: Children, Social Problems, and the Future of Childhood failure. Others, in contrast, depict “girl next door” characters whose unin- tended pregnancies capture insidious gender disparities. Linking teen births and social inequalities, Erdmans and Black demonstrate how the intersecting hierarchies of gender, race, and class shape the biographies of young mothers. More studies like those of Kaplan, Luttrell, and Erdmans and Black are clearly needed. In any case, we do know some things. Generally, children born to teenage mothers are at a developmental disadvantage compared with children born to older mothers. For younger children, these differences are much more likely to be observed in sons than in daughters, with sons of teenage mothers being more aggressive and lacking self-control compared to sons of older mothers. In adolescence, school achievement is markedly lower among off- spring of teenage mothers, and these youth display behavioral problems and a lack of interest in learning compared to the interest displayed by children of older mothers (Furstenberg et al., 1989). However, a wide range of factors is associated with having a teenage mother (for example, disadvantaged neighborhoods, low-quality schools, lower educational attainment of the mother, emotional problems of the mother, and so on), and it is not clear which of these factors may account for these differences. Violence, Victimization, and the Loss of Childhood In Chapter 10, we discussed the bogeyman syndrome or the general fear of the victimization of children in contemporary industrialized societies. These heightened fears about children’s safety are, to a large degree, a reflection of our own adult anxieties about our lack of control in a rapidly changing world. Yet, even if the world is a place no more dangerous (and perhaps even less dangerous) than it was in the past, violence and inhumanity clearly exist. Children, more than any other group, are the main victims of such evils— victims of wars, violence, anger, and neglect in their societies, communities, and families. Recent revelations of child molestation in the Catholic Church have raised the already growing concern about child physical and sexual abuse outside the home. Also, there is growing concern about children and youth being bullied by peers at school and online, as we will discuss more below. Many parents ask, “Where can my children be safe?” Children are at a high risk of victimization for several reasons, including (a) their dependency on adults, (b) their relatively small physical stature, and (c) the legal toleration of victimization (Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994). Furthermore, given their dependency on adults, children often have little choice regarding with whom they associate and where they live. These Copyright ©2018 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
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