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Labeling Theory Essay

4032 words - 16 pages

What does it mean to be a “teen mom”? People can put others into groups and to some degree label them without even consciously thinking about it. There are even television shows about this topic including, “Sixteen and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”, at times these shows show the affect the situation has on the father as well. Some individuals say this idolizes this situation, others say it shows a realistic picture of what life would be like to be a mom at 16. This is something that people may categorize or label as soon as they see or assume someone is a “teen mom”. This label may end up having a negative effect on the parent(s). To many people this can be a sign of irresponsibility or poor judgment, but obviously everyone in this situation is not the same. Some are irresponsible and do not change; but some do take on the responsibility and change themselves to become a better person and a more responsible parent.
Consider this scenario, two sisters both got pregnant at the age 16 and were affected differently by this label. This encouraged the first sister to work harder to finish high school, stop partying as much, and get a more stable job and make a home for her and her daughter. However, the second sister with this label continued to be irresponsible, she got pregnant again at the age of 18. She is not making the greatest choices for herself or her sons. These labels may be correct or completely wrong, many are somewhere in the middle. If these parents all receive the same label, the label can have the potential to make them see themselves as irresponsible, and not good decision makers. What makes one person with the same label do one thing and another person do something entirely different?
Labels affect people in various groups, not just “teen moms”, look at those who use/abuse alcohol or drugs. Society also seems to label people as “druggies” if they see them with any kind of drug or side effects of any of these substances. This definitely comes off with negative connotations about that person. Consider a guy who is a drug addict and is continually using a variety of substances, he has been on them for years, and has been negatively affected by substance use. He has been in jail, he has had at least three known suicide attempts, been in the hospital psychiatric unit several times, lost several serious relationships and continues to have difficulty maintaining a job. Even now, he is trying to get off heroin, his drug of choice, and is going to a methadone clinic for help. The methadone has obvious side effects, not as severe as the heroin, but they are still present. The label society gives seems to fit him more correctly than others, does he have a chance to succeed with this label? Could this label just encourage him to continue doing drugs or even to take more drugs?
Observing these situations, the effects of labeling are apparent. Sometimes labeling seems beneficial, others times it may be...

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