Ophelia with Child: A Restorative Approach to Legal Decision-Making by Teen Mothers
28 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2010
Date Written: July 7, 2010
The modern welfare state has not successfully come to grips with the phenomenon of minor parenting. While federal statutes have placed strong pressure on teenage mothers to stay at home in their extended households, many welfare programs treat the teenage mother as a fully mature, autonomous decision-maker for important decisions affecting the minor and her own child, as well as the household in which she lives. This paradigm does not account for contemporary research on adolescent development or family dynamics in extended family situations, and the need for a realistic approach to helping teen mothers mature into their role. I argue that restorative justice principles can create an architecture of responsibility that is more reflective of reality and more successful for all parties involved.
Keywords: welfare, minors, restorative justice, parenting, teenage mothers
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