The terms 'teen pregnancy' and 'teenage parenting' are rife with moral accusations and factual ambiguities. Arising from a conference at Ryerson Polytechnical University, these nine original essays delimit and clarify the multifarious facts that affect how Canadian society both responds to, and creates, the phenomenon of the teen parent. The contributors bring expertise from diverse disciplines - sociology, history, and philosophy - to address the pressing question: what should social policy be on the issues of teen pregnancy and parenting? An analysis of data from Nova Scotia discusses the material consequences of adolescent parenting - more poverty, less income, and less home ownership - but also challenges certain assumptions about the extent of such consequences. A discussion of focus-group results reveals that consideration of the socioeconomic barriers facing young single mothers, when given the necessary attention, suggests an often ignored set of issues relevant to judgments about responsibility: the experience of personal growth, the struggle to solve their own problems, and the search for independence.
Delving in the ethics of responsibility and untangling the meaning of the term 'social construction' sets the context for policy debates on sophisticated, non-reductive terrain. The study's new findings, the interdisciplinary approach, and the Canadian focus makes this unique gathering of facts and ideas of central importance to students of sociology, health and women's studies, philosophy, urban youth culture, and public policy.
David Checkland is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Ryerson Polytechnic University. James Wong is Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies Programme at Wilfrid Laurier University.