"Brenda's Got a Baby": Single Motherhood in the Streets

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This secondary analysis examines a group of low-income, street-life oriented, single Black mothers ranging between the ages of 18 and 35 in the Eastside and Southbridge sections of Wilmington, Delaware. This study is guided by the following question: To what extent are family composition, criminal record or street activity, and educational level predictive of intergenerational notions of single motherhood? This multi-method secondary analysis drew on the following forms of data: (a) 310 surveys; (b) 6 individual interviews; (c) 3 dual interviews; (d) 2 group interviews; and (e) extensive field observations. Qualitative data suggests that most women socially reproduced childhood attitudes and conditions, including “fatherless” homes and single motherhood. According to most women, use and sales of narcotics as well as incarceration were the primary factors for why their children’s father did not reside in the home and participate in their children’s lives. Survey results suggests that number of children in the home, arrest and incarceration rates, educational and employment status , as well as healthcare status are predictive of marital status in the women. Ultimately, this study proposes methods of intervention for these street-life oriented Black women.