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Stigmatizing and the Case of the Crack Baby

Generalization by the media has the ability to have stigmatizing affects on individuals. A perfect example of this is the case of the “crack baby.” For years this was an acceptable term not because it was accurate, but because of the spin the media put on this term. Although there was an actual epidemic calling for concern and action by the American people, the media chose to publicize the ill-researched plight of the crack baby as opposed to the continued exposure of the negative effects crack had on the family unit as a whole.

In “Voices: The Damage Done: Crack babies talk back,” I agreed with the author’s point, that the term in itself may have caused more damage than the actual drug.  I find it interesting that the term crack baby was introduced so diligently, but the removal of said term from our vocabulary was not as readily publicized. Even if it were, we remember this phrase far better than we remember the reasons why we should not use it.

From this piece, I realized that I have personally seen more cases of crack addicted babies overcoming the odds, as opposed to failing them. I can honestly say I do not know of any babies that were born crack addicted still suffering the ill effects of the drug. I also have to agree with the statement: “Perhaps more damaging than being exposed to cocaine itself is growing up with the addicts, who are often incapable of providing a stable nurturing home” (Blake 61). Those who failed the odds often had other problems at birth, crack not even being the biggest concern. Home life either impacted them negatively (for those who stayed in the homes), or positively (For those that were removed from their homes).

In Antwaun’s case, it seems as if his home life may have been the problem. The author states that his “tattered clothes reeked of cat piss. His father peddled drugs and his mother smoked rock” (Blake 60). I did not take from this piece that Antwaun was born addicted to crack. My take is that Antwaun was born into a family that was incapable of providing a stable and loving environment, but because the term crack baby was being used, this is how he was labeled.

Although I agree that the term crack baby had a negative impact on Antwaun, I do not think it was the most effective anecdote to prove Blake’s overall point. The story never specified rather or not he was born crack addicted. As previously stated I think that the signs of neglect and the knowledge of what and who his parents were, along with the media’s irresponsibility in coining this phrase crack baby may have caused Antwaun’s issues with his peers and troubles in school. I cannot even speculate on whether or not Antwaun had a learning disability. It seems from the details given that he may have been a child that just slipped through the cracks.

I could draw the conclusion that children born into situations where drugs are involved are often and can be stereotyped. This story only supports the fact that the term is damaging, but I have to assume that Antwuan was born addicted to crack, to correlate the effects of crack use during pregnancy with the long term effects on crack addicted babies.

The most effective part of this piece was Dr. Ira  Chasnoff’s study. Although he suggested that, “prenatal cocaine exposure could have a devastating effect on infants,” the doctor warned in that same report that more research was needed. He had only studied twenty-three women. The warning from the doctor himself was the most damning piece of evidence of how we fall prey to the media. The media took the part of the study that benefited them and omitted the rest. We as the public were bombarded with images and facts that turned out to be mainly false years later.

I also found it effective that the author mentions a group of doctors that wanted the term crack baby dropped from the press. These same doctors included researchers investigating the effects of crack to an unborn child. There was an open letter to the media dated February 25, 2004. The very first paragraph supports everything the author of this piece is stating. The letter states:

As medical and psychological researchers with many years of experience studying and prenatal exposure to psychoactive substances, we are writing to request that the terms “crack baby” and “crack addicted baby” be dropped from usage. These terms and similarly stigmatizing terms such as “ice babies” and “meth babies”, lack scientific validity and should not be used.

The second to the last paragraph certainly ties everything together, from the media being irresponsible, to the phrase itself being damaging to children.

We are deeply disappointed that American and International

media continues to use a term that not only lacks any scientific

basis but endangers and disenfranchises the children to whom

it is applied.

I feel as if this piece was very informative. It provoked me to do further research and held my interest. The only thing that I would have done differently is I would have included more detail about Antwaun’s life. Although I fully agree with the author that the term crack baby does have a stigmatizing affect, she should have explained why Antwaun’s story was included. Again I drew the conclusion that he may have been born crack addicted, but one can also say that the phrase crack baby affected Antwaun more than the actual effect of being born addicted to crack.

I might have used Antwaun’s story to point out how crack affected his family and his experiences in school, due to the reckless use of this phrase, but I also would have given other examples. Even if Antwaun was the only student that agreed in the beginning, I would have used more examples of children, for instance those born addicted to crack, to illustrate the points in this piece.

The media should not be so quick to perpetuate ignorance. I think at some point the actual “plight” of the crack baby was lost and due to the generalization of the media we focused more on the images and misinformation that were deliberately used to tug at our heart strings. I doubt that this provided any more funding for crack addicted mothers or babies.

Generalization by the media has the ability to have stigmatizing affects on individuals. A perfect example of this is the case of the “crack baby.” For years this was an acceptable term not because it was accurate, but because of the spin the media put on this term. Although there was an actual epidemic calling for concern and action by the American people, the media chose to publicize the ill-researched plight of the crack baby as opposed to the continued exposure of the negative effects crack had on the family unit as a whole.

In “Voices: The Damage Done: Crack babies talk back,” I agreed with the author’s point, that the term in itself may have caused more damage than the actual drug.  I find it interesting that the term crack baby was introduced so diligently, but the removal of said term from our vocabulary was not as readily publicized. Even if it were, we remember this phrase far better than we remember the reasons why we should not use it.

From this piece, I realized that I have personally seen more cases of crack addicted babies overcoming the odds, as opposed to failing them. I can honestly say I do not know of any babies that were born crack addicted still suffering the ill effects of the drug. I also have to agree with the statement: “Perhaps more damaging than being exposed to cocaine itself is growing up with the addicts, who are often incapable of providing a stable nurturing home” (Blake 61). Those who failed the odds often had other problems at birth, crack not even being the biggest concern. Home life either impacted them negatively (for those who stayed in the homes), or positively (For those that were removed from their homes).

In Antwaun’s case, it seems as if his home life may have been the problem. The author states that his “tattered clothes reeked of cat piss. His father peddled drugs and his mother smoked rock” (Blake 60). I did not take from this piece that Antwaun was born addicted to crack. My take is that Antwaun was born into a family that was incapable of providing a stable and loving environment, but because the term crack baby was being used, this is how he was labeled.

Although I agree that the term crack baby had a negative impact on Antwaun, I do not think it was the most effective anecdote to prove Blake’s overall point. The story never specified rather or not he was born crack addicted. As previously stated I think that the signs of neglect and the knowledge of what and who his parents were, along with the media’s irresponsibility in coining this phrase crack baby may have caused Antwaun’s issues with his peers and troubles in school. I cannot even speculate on whether or not Antwaun had a learning disability. It seems from the details given that he may have been a child that just slipped through the cracks.

I could draw the conclusion that children born into situations where drugs are involved are often and can be stereotyped. This story only supports the fact that the term is damaging, but I have to assume that Antwuan was born addicted to crack, to correlate the effects of crack use during pregnancy with the long term effects on crack addicted babies.

The most effective part of this piece was Dr. Ira  Chasnoff’s study. Although he suggested that, “prenatal cocaine exposure could have a devastating effect on infants,” the doctor warned in that same report that more research was needed. He had only studied twenty-three women. The warning from the doctor himself was the most damning piece of evidence of how we fall prey to the media. The media took the part of the study that benefited them and omitted the rest. We as the public were bombarded with images and facts that turned out to be mainly false years later.

I also found it effective that the author mentions a group of doctors that wanted the term crack baby dropped from the press. These same doctors included researchers investigating the effects of crack to an unborn child. There was an open letter to the media dated February 25, 2004. The very first paragraph supports everything the author of this piece is stating. The letter states:

As medical and psychological researchers with many years of experience studying and prenatal exposure to psychoactive substances, we are writing to request that the terms “crack baby” and “crack addicted baby” be dropped from usage. These terms and similarly stigmatizing terms such as “ice babies” and “meth babies”, lack scientific validity and should not be used.

The second to the last paragraph certainly ties everything together, from the media being irresponsible, to the phrase itself being damaging to children.

We are deeply disappointed that American and International

media continues to use a term that not only lacks any scientific

basis but endangers and disenfranchises the children to whom

it is applied.

I feel as if this piece was very informative. It provoked me to do further research and held my interest. The only thing that I would have done differently is I would have included more detail about Antwaun’s life. Although I fully agree with the author that the term crack baby does have a stigmatizing affect, she should have explained why Antwaun’s story was included. Again I drew the conclusion that he may have been born crack addicted, but one can also say that the phrase crack baby affected Antwaun more than the actual effect of being born addicted to crack.

I might have used Antwaun’s story to point out how crack affected his family and his experiences in school, due to the reckless use of this phrase, but I also would have given other examples. Even if Antwaun was the only student that agreed in the beginning, I would have used more examples of children, for instance those born addicted to crack, to illustrate the points in this piece.

The media should not be so quick to perpetuate ignorance. I think at some point the actual “plight” of the crack baby was lost and due to the generalization of the media we focused more on the images and misinformation that were deliberately used to tug at our heart strings. I doubt that this provided any more funding for crack addicted mothers or babies.

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