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Similar groups have begun to appear around the country. In New York, the Family Life program, co-sponsored by the state and the Children's Aid Society, is attempting to give dead-end kids a sense of self-esteem, says Michael Carrera, its energetic director. Since the program's initiation last February, not one of the 55 participating youngsters has become pregnant or fathered a child.
These efforts are aimed at what may be the true root of the teenage pregnancy problem: not simply lack of sex education or access to birth control but a sense of worthlessness and despair. Recounts Watson of Crittenton Center: "The girls tell me, 'Before I was pregnant, I was nothing. Now I am somebody. I'm a mother.' " As long as adolescents look in the mirror and see nobody there, they are likely to seek identity by becoming--ready or not--somebody's mother. --By Claudia Wallis. Reported by Cathy Booth/New York, Melissa Ludtke/Los Angeles and Elizabeth Taylor/Chicago