Thinker's Corner

Teenage Pregnancy and Choice by Sharon Tabberer, Christine Hall, Shirley Prendergast and Andrew Webster (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Homestead, 40 Water End, York YO30 6WP, £12.95) is a report on the reasons why a young woman might choose to have her pregnancy terminated. The research, based on interviews with 41 girls in the Doncaster area aged 18 or under, looks at which social, economic and cultural factors affect the decision. The report shows how, during the seven- to 14-week period after the pregnancy is discovered, sources of impartial advice for teenagers are few. It also finds that, among many young mothers, abortion had not been considered as an option. The report suggests that government initiatives need to focus more on providing better information and advice to young mothers in deprived areas. Underlying all this is an assumption that the refusal to countenance abortion is based on ignorance, not adherence to a moral principle.

Children and Advertising: the allegations and the evidence by Adrian Furnham (Social Affairs Unit, Suite 5/6, 1st Floor, Morley House, 314-322 Regent Street, London W1R 5AB, £7.50) attempts to show that it is irresponsible parenting, not advertising, that harms children. At a time when pressure is mounting to regulate the advertising of sweets, toys, music and other goods, the psychologist Furnham finds no evidence to justify further controls. Rather, he claims, parenting styles and peer influence are central in forming a child's patterns of consumption, and an authoritative approach by parents helps turn children into responsible consumers. The evidence, based on a survey of more than 20 studies, suggests not only that youngsters are far more sophisticated consumers than is popularly imagined, but that advertisers possess no esoteric knowledge which allows them to create demands in children. But the question remains - do parents want their children to be "sophisticated consumers"?

This article first appeared in the 27 November 2000 issue of the New Statesman, The rise of stealthy wealth