Anthony Ward Jr.
Final Paper Psych 394
Child, a word once synonymous with innocence, is now more than ever seen as synonymous with guilt. Guilty of delinquency, guilty of crimes that prior to modernity could never have been fathomed to be carried out by children. Our world and our society have failed to be role models for the young and impressionable. The family unit has deteriorated and parents fallen short of their duties to their progeny. In many areas and in many households children have not been allowed to live innocently. Children have been forced to grow up before their time, to learn things their minds cannot properly comprehend. They have been forced to relinquish their naivety in response to societal images and pressures. Environments that children are reared in are becoming increasingly hostile. Children of urban and impoverished neighborhoods no longer make statements of "when I grow up", but "if I grow up". The word "if" replaces "when" because it is all too likely that a child may not make it to adulthood. In the word "if", one can see the feelings of hopelessness that an environment such as the inner city of Chicago breeds. The feelings of if I make it through the pain and suffering of my childhood then I'll be
Juvenile courts and centers are filled with children from impoverished urban neighborhoods where violence and death is a common occurrence. How can a child be shielded in an environment such as this? I propose that while no child could be completely shielded, the effects of the environment can be buffered. I believe this buffering can be accomplished through a developmentally nourishing home environment created by a loving and encouraging parent or guardian. I believe that the parent-child relationship and a stable home environment are key to the improvement of child delinquency. Observing the trend of generational teen pregnancy in the urban setting, I decided to research the effects of the age at which a mother gives birth to her child on the development of the child and subsequent delinquent behaviors. Through my own experience I have observed many young mothers and found their interaction with and manner of discipline for their children to be developmentally unsound. In my research I attempted to better understand the situations that lead up to and are created by teenage pregnancy and what if any is the effect on the child. The age of the mother isn't itself the problem rather it is indicative of the mother's inexperience, immaturity, and instability. The younger the mother the less life experiences she may have, resulting in an inferior understanding of actions and consequence. Research studies have shown that "having a child at an early age decreases the mothers' future chances of finishing school and getting married, and increases the number of children she is likely to have." (Hotz, McElroy, & Sanders, 1997) This brings light to the poor attainment achieved by most young mothers. Respectively, poor attainment affects the life she can provide for her child as well as herself. I will attempt to within this paper display the effects of maternal instability, poor attainment, and immaturity on child development. The life and life circumstances of parent and child are indelibly linked. Human lives are interconnected and this is particularly true of parent and child. Life-course circumstances of one person has an important effect on developmental paths and outcomes of those who are linked to them. Internal change in life-course circumstances can have important implications beyond the individual. So, if mother's life is unstable the child feels the effects of shifting circumstance. Goldstein et al., in The Best Interests of the Child, identifies a child's need for stability and continuity. From the Goldstein et al. book one can identify instability as a detriment to the psychosocial development of a child. The lives of young mothers are more likely to...
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