What 'crack babies' can teach our lawmakers
Politicians, scientists, and journalists repeatedly warned that the United States would be plagued by a generation of "crack babies" putting a massive drain on the social service infrastructures of our inner cities.
Retro Report — an independent news organization of which I'm the publisher — went back and looked at the story decades later and traced the concern to a single 1985 study which concluded that pregnant mothers who smoked crack cocaine were seriously harming their unborn children. The explosive findings were kept alive through a steady drumbeat of media coverage. Laws were passed and addicted mothers were even incarcerated.
But the study was flawed, the media coverage was overhyped, and the forecasts never came true. In fact, scientific research now concludes that alcohol is a much bigger problem for unborn babies than crack cocaine. Our initial impressions of "crack babies" and their impact on our society was entirely wrong.
It's a lesson that politicians and policymakers everywhere should heed.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- How Ukraine can fend off the Russians, in 7 simple steps
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
Subscribe to the Week