...In Gloucester, Massachusetts the news has broken about 17 girls (at last count) who are pregnant and under the age of 16 in the same school. No one would really bat an eye about this normally except that the national news picked this up on the basis of two things.
1 - the pregnancy rate this year in the school is four times what it was last year
2 - allegedly the girls made a pact to get pregnant and raise the babies together
Now there are reports that it was only 7 or 8 girls who made the pact and that's why the spike in the pregnancy rate is there, and that it wasn't really a "pact" but those are all pretty words from the mayor who said the principal suddenly had a "foggy memory" when it came to using the word "pact" and who told him about it. It's messy.
But the real mess is that a number of girls, and I don't care if it was 7 or 17, decided to deliberately get pregnant while in high school. What the hell were they thinking?
According to one teenage mother from that school, who recently graduated and has been interviewed everywhere, it could be because they wanted someone to love them unconditionally. It could be a status measure according to a psychologist. It could be a way to draw these girls together and keep them from being torn apart by family moves, college choices, whatever.
If it's because of the unconditional love thing, then those girls need to take a good hard look in the mirror and realize that their parents love them unconditionally even if it doesn't feel like it or sound like it. Teenage years are the suckiest ones for a person living through them and for their parents. It's really easy to forget that there's a love basis there when you're always yelling at each other or grounding someone for pushing boundaries.
Other teenagers say that the girls involved just run wild and don't have enough parental supervision. There's a thought that maybe they were already pregnant and banded together to create a family and to stay in school. Others muse that maybe there's a herd mentality there - one or two got pregnant and so the others tried as well. Either way, there are girls who were high five-ing each other when they got positive pregnancy tests from the school nurse, and those who were depressed that they weren't pregnant.
Want more mess? Well, that's easy to find. Where are the fathers of the babies in all this? Apparently they're not school mates. Reports have said (and remember that's all we've got because the girls and their families aren't talking to the press) that one of the fathers of the children is a 24 year old homeless man. Reportedly the rest got pregnant by their boyfriends.
Again, it's a real mess. This is a Catholic community as well, apparently. Whatever happened to the original birth control - holding an aspirin between your legs?
Let's be straight here. I'm not condemning these girls for being pregnant. What I am against is the idea that they may have planned to do this when they have a whole lot of life ahead of them that they're not going to be able to enjoy as much with a baby to look out for. 2am feedings and an exam the next day? Prom and Homecoming with a toddler to take care of? That's going to be a logistical nightmare.
Yes, some of these girls are freshmen and sophomores, which makes it all the more scary. We're talking 14 and 15 year old girls. I guess it hits home a little harder because I have a 12 year old daughter who is just a few short months away from 13. But let's get back on track.
What about the teen fathers who could be subjected to statutory rape charges because of the laws in Massachusettes (where it's illegal to have sex with a 15 year old)? What to do about the homeless man? It's illegal even if the girls initiated it...
On top of it all you've got the conservative (and not so conservative) media talking about the glorification of teen pregnancy. After all, look at Jaime Lynn Spears who got pregnant at 17, Nickelodeon still aired her popular television show (which had already finished filming it's last season), and most of the press was sympathetic to her. Well, who wouldn't be, she's Britney's sister. And then there was the movie 'Juno' which was very well received, won an Oscar for the screenplay and highlighted teen pregnancy in a funny and touching way.
Even so, it's teen pregnancy. It's a bunch of girls potentially with herd mentality thinking that if my friend is doing it, then I will too. Or they're fooling themselves with the idea that this will be a walk in the park and their parents will help them out.
Either way, no matter what the real story is, it's sad. It's truly sad that a bunch of young women have stunted their potential by getting pregnant. While "Mom" is a great badge to wear, a status group that gets a certain amount of respect, and is a career for some, it's not something that a teenager should have on their resume before college. But that's just my opinion.
What do you think?