I was 17 and pregnant with my first child when PEOPLE'S 1994 issue depicting teen mothers and mothers-to-be came out. Many friends, teachers and family members stopped believing that I could keep my dreams and fulfill my goals as a young, single mom. I am now 22, graduated Phi Theta Kappa and am a semester away from my bachelor's degree in psychology. But my proudest accomplishment is my 4-year-old daughter, who has given me inspiration, joy and love beyond compare,
Anna Lisa Bella, Guttenberg, N.J.
I had my daughter when I was 17, just after your 1994 issue featuring teen moms. I was happy to see that some of them were able to get their lives back on track. I have worked on a teen pregnancy prevention program for four years now. We speak to high school students about our experiences and about contraception and sexual health, in hope of banishing the common belief that having a baby is fun or cool, or that the baby somehow "saves" you. One of the hardest things about this program is finding teen moms who actually grew up and are honestly working to make a better life. I would be interested in receiving correspondence from some intelligent young mothers out there.
Kirstin Finkenzeller, Timmins, Ont.
Three months after my 16th birthday I gave birth to my son, so I can relate to what these girls have gone through. But I must say in defense of teenage mothers that although it may be tough, and I wouldn't recommend it, it sometimes can make us better people. Before my son, I partied; that was my life. After his birth I realized I was responsible for the life of another person. I graduated from high school with high honors, went to college, got a degree and am now working for a wonderful company. I didn't do it alone, either. I had the support of my boyfriend, now my husband. Please don't think that just because we gave birth young that we will all become welfare mothers who have nothing to contribute to society.
Janet Robbins, Corning, NY.
I am 22 and the single mother of a fantastic 4-year-old son. It made me proud to know that people take notice of all the hard work and dedication young women in my situation put into being parents. Having been through a teen pregnancy, I have a tremendous desire to try and educate parents about how hard it really is so that they don't have to struggle as hard for the simplest things in life as I and so many others do If you could please print an address or phone number for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, I would love to help their efforts in any way I could
Melissa K McDaniels, Indianapolis
They may be contacted at 2100 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037 or by calling 202-261-5655.—ED.
I think it is tragic when a 21-year-old woman has four children she can barely support and a man who has no intention of ever marrying her. Next time Twanna and Jeff go grocery shopping for all those babies, they should make a stop in the contraceptive aisle.
Somnmer Barnard Toledo Ohio
In reading the follow-up profiles of your teenage mothers, only one thought comes to mind: "Didn't you learn anything?" Though a few have gone on to find love and a chance for a better life, most of them have had more babies or pregnancies, continuing the cycle. How often will it be repeated before the lesson is learned? Linda Frueh Lombard Ill.
Sorry, I didn't get all warm and fuzzy over your follow-up story on babies having babies. My former husband and I both worked and saved money before deciding to have our son. Even during my toughest years later as a single mother it never once occurred to me to seek public assistance. I've worked all my life and now hold down two part-time jobs. Why should a chunk of my paycheck go for welfare free medical care, food stamps and public housing to some young girl just because she made the unilateral decision to have sex get pregnant keep her child and even continue to have more babies?
Carol Benson Modesto Calif.
Just a few years ago a young unwed mother would at least be embarrassed, if not downright ashamed, to have anyone know about her condition. Now they make the cover of PEOPLE. What is wrong with this picture?
James Shoaf, Santa Clara, Califf.
Congratulations to all of the teen mothers in your story! They all have done their best to make a negative situation have a positive outcome.
Stephanie Welsh, Stafford, Va.
Many years ago I treated myself to a second performance of Phantom of the Opera. When I arrived at the theatre and found out Robert Guillaume, not Michael Crawford, would sing as the Phantom, I was incredulous! "Benson?" I asked. "Benson?" Until show time, I kept hearing the Benson theme song in my head. Let me tell you "Benson" blew Michael Crawford out of the water! I have since seen the show two more times and no one has compared to Mr. Guillaume Reading that since his stroke he can no longer sing I sincerely hope his gift is not forever lost
Jennifer Schilt Sherman Oaks Calif.
Anyone who pulls a gun on the police runs the risk of being shot, whether they are black, white or green! These policemen were only doing their jobs. If this was the story of a white guy getting shot by the police, we would never have heard about it. The civil rights movement fought so that people would be treated equally based on their actions, not differently because of their color.
Teresa Foster, Torrance, Calif.
What happened to Tyisha Miller is horrible. I learned on the local news that the police officers fired 27 times at her. If that isn't excessive force, I don't know what is. The four officers may not be racists, but the way they dealt with this touchy situation must have been swayed by their prejudiced views of black people.
Kimberly Judy, Torrance, Calif.
I am so tired of stories like this one. These white cops shot Tyisha Miller simply because she was black? People have to stop blaming everything on their color. She had a semiautomatic handgun on her lap! Stop blaming the world, and teach your kids right from wrong.
C. Gregory, Dayton, Ohio
George C. Scott
George C. Scott had a compelling eloquence and a formidable presence. His delivery and characterizations were flawless. Never has an actor conveyed so much with a gesture or the lift of an eyebrow. George C. Scott was our answer to Olivier.
Deborah Gibson, Loveland, Ohio
Picks & Pans
Brooks and Dunn were incorrectly identified in the photo you ran with the review of their latest album. Brooks is the one sitting and Dunn is the one standing.
Kris Newton, Vancouver, Wash.
We regret the error.—ED.
Harrison Ford, 57, is one of my favorite actors, but I nearly choked when I read that he thinks his new leading lady, Kristin Scott Thomas, 39, is a "good age" for him. Come on, Harry, you're still a whole generation apart. Have we been seeing the older man/young woman scenario in movies for so long that an 18-year gap is now considered the norm? Just once, how about a 57-year-old actress with a 57-year-old man? Whose fantasies are we feeding here, anyway?
D.F. Hutson, Westchester, N.Y.
I had to respond to Harrison Ford's stunningly insensitive remarks about the "dearth of appropriately aged actresses." What exactly does Ford think has happened to all the actresses he worked with when he was younger? Does he think they fell off the edge of the earth? No, Mr. Ford, Lesley-Anne Down, Kelly McGillis, Karen Allen, Carrie Fisher, Sean Young and Melanie Griffith are still out there, but due to the fact that actors of influence would rather work with 25-year-olds, or think that an actress 18 years younger is a "good age" to work with, there aren't a heck of a lot of roles for them.
Rhonda Hayter, Los Angeles