Unmarried Mothers and a Father's Confession Stir Reactions

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As the discussion on unmarried mothers continues, find out how listeners reacted. Plus, hear feedback to a story on a prominent D.C. attorney who had a child out of wedlock and reactions to a shocking beating on a bus in Baltimore.


And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on conversations happening on the TELL ME MORE blog and get a chance to hear from you.

Lee Hill, our Web producer, joins me here in the studio, as always.

Hi, Lee.

LEE HILL: What a week, Michel. It seems like everyone around this place is on the grind for the holidays. Things have been very active. But I want to take a look at a couple of conversations that have folks talking.

First, the rate of births among unmarried women hit an all-time high in 2006. We talked about it last week with our Mocha Moms. And later, we decided to toss the conversation to the guys in our barbershop. Now take a listen to Jimi Izrael from last week's shop.

JIMI IZRAEL: What role do single mothers take in their own life? I mean, as far as I know, you know, they still got a family planning center at every drugstore, and all that good stuff is mad cheap. It's less expensive than a hair relaxer. What's up with that?

HILL: Well, fellows, I could have told you that would ruffle a few feathers. And sure enough, Samantha wrote us with her view point.

SAMANTHA: Gentlemen, I want to point out that no birth control method is 100 percent effective. If you read the instructions on that condom package or your partner's birth control pill package, you will find that when it's used correctly, the pill, contraceptive patch and IUD are between 92 and 99 percent effective. The only 100 percent guaranteed way to avoid impregnating a woman is not to have sex with her. I hear cold showers work pretty well.

MARTIN: Thank you, Samantha. We can always count on the barbershop guys to generate some type of reaction.

Earlier this week we also had a conversation with prominent Washington, D.C. attorney A. Scott Bolden. He had a candid conversation with us about fathering a child out of wedlock. If you didn't hear the story, let me give you the short version. When Bolden was a college student, he fathered a child by a young woman, also a student at the time. And when she informed him, he questioned his responsibility and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

Finally, when his daughter turned 18, the mother insisted that the two connect. Bolden did and discovered that his daughter was pregnant. Bolden wrote about his subsequent efforts to connect with his daughter Shayla. He talked about trying to get to know her, give her advice, and how he supports her financially. Well, Cassandra, one of our bloggers, had mixed feelings and a story of her own to share.

CASSANDRA: When someone with Mr. Bolden's education and background can just walk away from his paternal obligations, what kind of message does it send to the many brothers who by chance or determination don't have Bolden's access to power or privilege? Ten years ago, as a new divorcee, I sued my ex for child support, but it wasn't an easy decision to make. I wish Shayla and all the other women and girls in Mr. Bolden's life well.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Cassandra, for that. But I do have to say that Mr. Bolden, once his paternity was established, did assume financial responsibility. And the mother of his daughter did not request that he do so prior to that point.

So Lee, anything else?

HILL: Yes, there is. We're reported on a situation making headlines in Baltimore. It's a disturbing case about a woman and two others who were allegedly beaten by a group of teenagers on a Baltimore City bus. What makes this case stand out even more to some are perceived racial overtones. The woman is white. The accused are all black. There are a lot of sensitivities here, obviously. We received this note from Andy. He says, I'm glad that you addressed this disturbing story and think it was bold in the current climate to do so. I hope that you will follow up when the facts become better known, even if only to gauge of the different social and racial reactions.

MARTIN: Thank you, Andy. We hope to do that. And thank you, Lee, and happy holidays to you.

HILL: Thank you, Michel. Merry Christmas to you as well. And thank you so much for the lovely gift to our staff - fleece pullovers with our own TELL ME MORE logo. We will be flossing this holiday season in style.


MARTIN: I try to keep everybody fly around here.

And we'd love to know how you will be celebrating the holidays. You can call our comment line at 202-842-3522 or go to npr.org/tellmemore and blog it out.

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