This story, "Revisiting The 'Crack Babies' Epidemic That Wasn't," was linked by Erik Loomis off LG&M this morning.
It's a NYTimes story, so if you've used up your quota for the month, you might not be able to get to it (though I've heard there are work-arounds).
But the key point is a brief one, though you should certainly read the story and watch the linked video if you can. It is that the crack baby epidemic that those of us who came up in the 80's and early 90's remember so much hysteria being raised about -- those crack babies that were going to overwhelm our country, destroy our educational system, turn our nation into Escape From New York -- well, they didn't exist.
The entire media frenzy was based on one study of 23 babies, whose symptoms (another researcher, who did the follow-up study notes) could equally well be explained as caused by the fact that the infants were born prematurely and to malnourished mothers.
Furthermore, thirty years on, the 23 infants in the initial study aren't showing anything like the dire predictions the initial study foretold. (Also, no huge epidemic of crack babies has overwhelmed our nation, obviously.)
So why was the media -- and our country -- so willing to buy into this crack baby story?
Yeah, you guessed it. Those People who were using crack, they were poor and they were black and they were doing drugs instead of working and they were having babies and they were going to expect Us to Take Care of Them!!
That story again.
Why does it matter? Well, crack babies were one of the reasons the War on Drugs got stepped up to the extent it did; and two, crack babies were one of the big reasons it became acceptable to prosecute pregnant women for child abuse, under the theory that they were abusing their fetuses by doing drugs.
And, despite the fact that the evidence does not exist to support the claim that doing drugs while pregnant harms the fetus, and despite the fact that poverty is much more harmful to a fetus than drug use could ever be (not to mention much more harmful to actual existing children), this practice continues.
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