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CHAPTER 11: Children, Social Problems, and Society 327 nursing profession, and joined the middle class. These successes positively affected the lives of her younger children (including a new son born after the original story was written) who are doing well in school, with Ishtar a recent high school graduate. However, Angela’s turning around of her life came too late for Nicholas and his brother Willie. Both became involved in drug activities in preadolescence when the family still lived in a housing project. Both have spent short periods of time in jail, have struggled to stay out of trouble, and have barely made ends meet as they try to support children they fathered out of wedlock. Willie has had the toughest life, twice being shot in drug-related incidents. Nicholas, the boy who grew up too fast, now is a man with an uncertain future and the dream of becoming a rap artist. It seems like a long shot, but his mother, Angela, after a troubled childhood and early adulthood turned her life around. She prays and hopes that Willie and Nicholas will be able to do the same. Given there have been no more follow ups to these stories we do not know the outcomes for Nicholas and his family. We do know that Isabel Wilkerson won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting for the first study, has gone on to write award-winning books as well, and is now the director of the nonfiction narrative program at Boston University. She reflected on her work including that on Angela and Nicholas in a recent article by Newkirk (2011). Teen Pregnancy and Nonmarital Births Perhaps no other change in family structure has been more controversial than the number of nonmarital births in Western industrialized societies. Nonmarital births seem most disturbing to those who hold traditional values regarding family structure because they are seen as a rejection of the two- parent family (Luker, 2006). However, the issue was intensified in the 1980s and early 1990s by the increase of nonmarital births by adolescent girls, most especially poor minority youth. In this case, as we saw in Chapter 10, all the negative aspects of blaming the victim come to the fore. Debates about nonmarital births and what is best for the children and the children having the children become tinged with racism and stereotypes of the poor. Let me be clear from the start. Teenage pregnancy, nonmarital births on the part of young girls, and abortion among youth are best avoided at all costs. They clearly are destructive of childhoods. That said, understanding the extent of the problem, interpreting its effects on children and youth, and doing something about it are indeed highly challenging tasks. However, as we will see in the discussion below, important progress has been made in addressing this issue.
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