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Teen Trend: Pregnancy Pact?

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Teens made pact to get pregnant.

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At Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, teens are getting pregnant at an alarmingly high rate. In fact, 17 girls in the school of 1,200 got pregnant this year alone. An article in Time magazine says that nearly half of the girls who are pregnant, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.

School officials first noticed an unusual number of girls visiting the school nurse for pregnancy tests. Principal Joseph Sullivan says that many reacted to news of their pregnancies with high-fives and baby shower plans. Girls whose tests were negative seemed disappointed by the news. And it was recently discovered that one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless man.

We called Bill Albert, spokesman and chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, to find out just how common this is.

"Although almost nine out of 10 teen pregnancies are still unplanned, there is a significant minority of teens who seek to get pregnant," he says. "However, the pregnancy pact--where girls agree to get pregnant and raise their children together--is a quite new and distressing trend. Just the fact that such a pact exists underscores how ill-prepared these girls really are for motherhood. Any mother in America can tell you how difficult being a mom really is and how it's not something to be entered into lightly. The fact these teens think they will 'raise the babies together' shows you how out of touch with the realities of parenthood they really are."

Albert says news of this 'pregnancy pact' should be a wake-up call to parents...and that it's just the tip of the iceberg. "Two weeks ago, the CDC said that the decline of teen sexual activity and the increase of teen contraceptive use we've seen in the past few years has come to a complete standstill now," he says. "And it was recently announced that the teen birth rate had increased for the first time in 15 years. These statistics may indicate we're moving backwards, and that's what parents should be really alarmed about."

He says all this emphasizes how important it is to discuss relationships, love, sex, pregnancy, and family formation with your kids sooner than later. "This should be the 18-year discussion that never ends," Albert stresses.

Rather than sitting kids down at 14 or 15 and explaining the "birds and the bees" in one long, awkward conversation (which Albert feels isn't effective, anyway), he says parents should start these conversations earlier than they think. "I'm not saying you need to discuss contraceptives with an 8-year-old," he adds, "but that is a good time to start discussing what a good relationship is, and how to respect a boy or a girl."

When it comes to communicating about love and sex with your kids, Albert says it's important to take baby steps and to send small signals over a long period of time. "You would never ignore how a kid does in school from kindergarten to seventh grade, but suddenly come up to him in eighth grade and say, 'You have to take school seriously.' That's a message you send kids over years and years," he says. "Discussions about love, sex, pregnancy, and family formation are really the same way. It's critical to send age-appropriate signals at different times."

When moms do discuss love and sex, are kids even listening? Yes, says Albert. "All the polls and studies that have been done indicate that the people who most influence teens' decisions about love and sex are not their friends, or their boyfriends or girlfriends...it's their parents," he explains. "Teens are yearning for your guidance from you, even if it doesn't seem like they are."

But for the 17 teen moms-to-be at Gloucester High School, it's too late for discussion. And now the school, which even has an on-site daycare center for students' offspring, is at odds over what to do next. The school committee plans to vote later this summer on whether or not to provide contraceptives to students. However, many parents oppose that notion.

Do you think Gloucester High School should give birth control to students?


next: Parents Pray, Son Dies
50 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous June 19, 2008, 4:16 PM

Where are their parents!!!!!

AnonymousOne June 19, 2008, 4:19 PM

What a bunch of STUPID kids!

Mary June 19, 2008, 4:27 PM

These girls got pregnant on purpose. Let them raise the children w/o any government help!!!!!!!!!!!!

Candes June 19, 2008, 5:08 PM

I agree, don’t make it easy for them. How flippin immature. They think it’s going to be soo fun to dress a baby in cool clothes.. um how are you going to afford it?

Can the school offer contraceptives for their brains? Poor babies.

Bri June 19, 2008, 5:11 PM

Huh? The school _already_ has an on-site daycare center for students offspring? AND many parents oppose having the school give out condoms? Seems like 17 pregnant girls is a rather obvious outcome.

Sue June 19, 2008, 5:17 PM

Obviously those girls didn’t WANT contraceptives because they WANTED to get pregnant and throw away their childhood. Why do kids want to grow up so fast now? They will soon realize that this is something they should have waited for.

Drue June 19, 2008, 5:34 PM

A serious debate on the merits or lack thereof of mandatory abortion when the pro-creator is below a certain age is warranted.

Jen June 19, 2008, 6:56 PM

Drue, It was totally unwarranted to make this an abortion debate. The fact remains that we all agree these girls did something completely idiotic! No need to start an online riot with talk of “mandatory abortions”

Ashleigh June 19, 2008, 7:43 PM

I think that these girls should be helped. They are not entirely to blame for the situation, and have likely been misinformed, or are uninformed completely. Counselling is necessary, and even the suggestion of a ‘mandatory’ abortion is ludicrous. It’s not an entirely safe or simple procedure and there are still fatal complications at times.

Kelly June 19, 2008, 7:45 PM

I had feelings of maternity during high school. I had been dating the guy when we were in the 7th grade. I am 21 now, and with the same man. Others tell me that I am still too young.

I would really like to be a mother. I just got married, so our wishes will come true.

Thank you high school for ruining lives, forcing us to stay in school when we turn 17/18. NO WONDER ‘we’ are so immature. If they allowed us to discontinue our education early, we would have a better sense of life BEFORE the feelings of wanting babies.

Like half a century ago…

LG June 19, 2008, 7:52 PM

Um… while I’m not going to have an all out debate on the merits of government aid and it’s place in child-rearing, I really truly get sick of the mentality that irresponsible teen mothers ought to somehow suffer a difficult time in raising their children for the sake of some abstracted sense of justice.

Children, while they are difficult and trying, are not a punishment. Period. End of story.

Whatever you think about the moral actions and responsibility of teen moms, the children they bear are still people, and *ought* not be made to suffer or live in sub-par conditions due to their parent’s abysmal decision making.

MPW June 19, 2008, 9:09 PM

The issue here is poor decision making in immature emotional females who were raised in this permissive society. The problem is lake of a firm moral code to guide them from early on. Too many parents now are “lazy’ regards their children & thus this they avoid instilling a moral base in them of right & wrong. This has come about due to the secular -liberal basis of life which is clueless about there is right & wrong. They preach ‘you choose” even if stupid & is pervasive in all our schools what ever level they be. But the nidus is our colleges- a cesspool of poor philosophy and encourage a radical view point which the education students take away when they graduate & teach in the lower grades.
Are we on the skids like Rome did in 400 AD. God Help the USA.

amy June 19, 2008, 10:15 PM

if you read the article in TIME about this issue, you’ll see WHY these girls did it - they’re living in a depressed area, with parents who don’t really care for them. They feel unloved, and figure that a baby will love them forever. The fact that the media glorifies pregnancy (Jamie Lynn Spears, coverage of celebrity pregnancies, etc.) isn’t helping either, because their parents aren’t telling them this isn’t for them.

It’s really sad, but their parents are to blame, not them. This isn’t so much about immorality as it is about lack of love.

Mom2Divas June 20, 2008, 3:21 AM

I am upset to think that some of you really believe that these girls should not have help with their children. ADULTS have children and recieve state aid for things like child care and health insurance. A child is a blessing, no matter the mothers age. And while i’m just dipping my finger in to my anger on how some people treat young mothers i will say i was a young mother…i was 16, my daughter was 1 month old at my 17th b’day party and yes i did have a barbi cake..kiss my a**. i now have 2 children and a husband. my kids are happy and amazing and i love watching them grow..it does not bother me that today is my 23rd b’day and my daughters just turned 6 and 15 mos. i am an *.AMAZING.* mother and should not be looked down on because you were 35. my parenting skills are just as developed as everyone elses. i do not agree that they should have tried to get pregnant, because it is a great challenge at that age, but they are not bad girls..they just made a questionable decision…

DadLogical June 20, 2008, 7:09 AM

SO MUCH to write here, but
1. Babies are not accessories, so don’t judge me too quickly - BUT it’s amazing that 8 or so girls made this pact…what a story! Think about your friends in high school, or even now - what kinds of pacts do you make and actually follow through, and on something monumental like a child? SOMETHING is going on here, and it’s much bigger than the story already seems. Culture has shifted, and we must pay attention. What is their collective motives? Who were their models? We can’t just assume they watched Mean Girls and Juno and American Pie and made this pact…there is a deep, brewing story here. Maybe even a hoax.

2. What about the fathers? The media only focuses on one 24 year old, and that most of the fathers are older…what are their stories?

3. While this is NOT a tragic story (babies are amazing!), this could be a story about negligent mothers in the future- but lets hope it doesn’t become that way. I’m POSITIVE this will garner HUGE NPOs and Faith-Based charities who will provide for these girls…just to make a point. This is just the beginning about this story. I predict it will grow and unfold (think the “7 UP” England-childrens’ movies).

Meanwhile, in light of the world’s dire circumstances, 17 babies born into middle class Gloucester isn’t a horrible thing - and Gov’t provision is a good thing: WE’RE helping our own - our own village…


babybumpsaintalwayscool June 20, 2008, 4:08 PM

You know there isn’t one cause of this “event” there are lots of causes, internal, external and environmental- Things like lack of high quality sex ed in the schools that runs from grade school to college, Making contraception easily and readily available, reinforcement that babies however sweet are not little love machines-you shut off and put away. Maybe this shows the community systems are giving mixed messages, Maybe not enough is being done to show girls that there is more to life than having kids in a fishing town. The community needs to look at a stronger Parent Education Model-Like “Can We Talk” from NEA, implementing a comprehensive puberty education program in the grade schools that also teaches refusal skills and abstinence, reinforcing the refusal skills and human sexual development issues in a proven effective comprehensive health model in grade 6 to 12, implementing long term youth development programs like “Wymans- Teen Outreach Program”, and Girl Power -looking at effective programs like the Realityworks - Babies - and even more so putting an emphasis not on the 17 Stupid girls (yes I said stupid) and put some emphasis on what is going right and helping support the other kids in continuing to make right choices and effective decisions related to their lives…

Louise June 20, 2008, 5:04 PM

In a Catholic town, contraception will obviously be frowned upon. It won’t be a social expectation that it should be used.

Not trying to pigeon hole these girls, but if your world is small - and shrinking every day along with declining industry - what dreams and ambitions do you have? How sophisticated are they going to be?

Perhaps motherhood is the best chance at growing and becoming independent and achieving something. I strongly feel that parents are in the best position to provide loving support and encouragement to their children. To set expectations for them. If future goals aren’t set, kids will make up their own. Maybe this stems from movies, but just as likely from Friends or SATC and their portrayals of female solidarity.

We need to listen to the 18 year old mother who graduated this summer - not only does she have the ear of the younger girls, but she can help us understand the pressures and influences on this age group and their behaviour.

Treating the symptoms is best done in conjunction with addressing the underlying problem.

KC June 20, 2008, 7:07 PM

this is pretty crazy. i just heard about this show baby borrowers on nbc. seems to have a decent message and might make a difference to a few teens that watch.

Gary June 21, 2008, 7:27 PM

Wow. How premeditated. Teens raising kids reminds me of that weird tv show I heard about, Baby Borrowers on NBC. These parents lend their kids to teens who think they can handle it and put it on TV… if you ever want to feel better about your own parenting, watch.

wanda gag June 21, 2008, 9:39 PM

Wow, when I first heard this story yesterday I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I mean, how cool is it that a group of girls 16 and under were able to coordinate a mass pregnancy. SEVENTEEN people??? Awesome! I can’t even get FOUR friends of mine to agree on a place and time to get dinner, let alone start families. (And we’re 23.)
Seriously, these girls have shown an incredible amount of foresight and planning that will totally be of use to them in the business world. So many people my age are apathetic and have no motivation. It so refreshing to hear a case of kids younger than me getting together, setting a goal, and moving 100% towards that goal. Decisiveness is a rare thing and these girls have it. If only our government had a fraction of the creativity and resourcefulness these girls have shown in getting pregnant we might actually have jobs and working public institutions.


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