The Pregnancy Pact?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Earlier this month, Time ran a story about Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, a school with an unusual spike in the rate of of teen pregnancies, where "strollers mingle seamlessly in school hallways among cheerleaders and junior ROTC." The kicker? The principal, Joseph Sullivan, alleged a group of sophomore girls had divulged a pact to become pregnant together. Of course, the story took off — teenage girls having babies on purpose?! Imaginations and accusations ran wild. Now the mayor says it never happened, and the principal can't remember things clearly. Plus, one of the girls who allegedly made the pact denies its existence — or, rather, clarifies that the girls made the pact after becoming pregnant, to support one another in motherhood. No matter what the story behind the pregnancies is, the fact is, teens get pregnant. So who are they? How often does it happen? We've got Sarah Brown with a snapshot of the who, when, and why of teen pregnancy. If you got pregnant as a teen, how did you talk about it with your girlfriends?



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I fear too many teens seen a child more like a jewelry instead of a human being. Having a child is a status symbol which is very sad. Of course later on, the child becomes more of a liability to dump on parents & grandparents to take care of.

Sent by William B | 3:48 PM | 6-26-2008

I overheard a group of 15-year-old girls prior to their soccer practice talking about the movie, "Juno." They all agreed that it made having a baby look "so cool." The one who started the conversation said "I just saw 'Juno' and I want to get pregnant!"

Sent by Betsy Hilt | 3:49 PM | 6-26-2008

A friend of a friend got his girlfriend pregnant, who decided to have the baby. Before the child was born, they seperated, and they both used the child as a leverage point. He wouldn't work so he wouldn't have to pay child support, and she would do all she could to get him to pay what he could. After about 6 months, the child died from malnutrition. The immaturity of the situation was incredibly unbareable.

Sent by David | 3:56 PM | 6-26-2008

The issue and idea of "teen pregnancy" must be altered to include both sexes. It is predominantly thought of and reported on as a girls dilemma and the focus is always placed upon the girls, but they cannot get pregnant on their own. We must as a society hold both the girls AND the boys responsible and change the normative thinking away from a single gender debate.

Sent by karen mcgarry | 4:03 PM | 6-26-2008

What about the parents? I find it humerous and yet perplexing that the media is doing all sorts of special reports and bringing in numerous panels of "experts" to determine the cause for this "pregnancy pact" and everyone has an idea of where to place the blame. But why hasn't anyone discussed the parental involvement in these children's lives? The media (and seemingly society) appears bound and determined that this "pact" is everyone else's fault except for the adults who have been charged with raising these girls from birth and teaching them the difference between right and wrong.

Sent by Dan Carver | 4:17 PM | 6-26-2008

I agree with Ms Sarah Brown on her assertion that parents play a pivitol role in the dynamic involved in this issue of teen pregenancy. I have heard many parents complain that their kids don't listen to them; however, I have also frequently heard people cite studies which show that teens themselves see their parents as significant influences. A dangerous element in our American culture is the denial of one's responsibility(ies).

I think it is a poor arguement to use the movie Juno as an example of Hollywood's bad influence. Have those individuals using that arguement seen Juno? In the end, Juno was without white picket fence and without baby. Juno didn't even have a baby shower. I do think that individuals such as Jamie Lee Spears are poor examples, but I don't think she took a pledge to lead by example.

PS You have probably already had a segment on Sex education in Public schools but I think it would be a wonderful topic to revisit. Parenting education may be an interesting topic as well: how many people know how important folic acid is, that even mild alcohol consumption may reduce IQ, and what is costs to raise a child (both in money spent and opportunity lost)?

Sent by David Yehsakul; Columbus, OH | 4:23 PM | 6-26-2008

I grew up very near gloucester and moved to a small city in PA. My household consisted of my mother and I, single parent houehold since I was 3( I am 28 now) My mother worked very hard to send me to good local private schools where I couldn't help but notice that she was the youngest mom in my class, having had me at 30.This is a much different experience than I've had in PA where the majoirty of my peers are only 15-23 years younger than their parents. I had been under the impression that extended schooling, and a more indepth education had motivated the former group of parents to establish themselves before having children. However if that is not an option for poorer(less rich) communities..the popular outlook is "I want to have children young, so I can relate to them better, play with them longer..I don't want to be old and decrepit taking care of a young child." A note:there is a day care in the local high school. So I feel its mostly a matter of socio-economics; not to the point of poor vs rich, but more education and the possiblity of further education vs none or partial high school etc. These girls in Gloucester know they will not go to college, they also know, at least in the back of their heads,that they may not be able to depend on their boyfriends or men in their lives,and possibly not even their families so why not have a dream and say "we will be our own community, our own support network cause its all we got?". These girls are young and undereducated (and maybe a bit naive)and the only news story should their lack of sex education. This happens all over the counrty to girls even younger. These gloucester girls decided to buck the system and decide their own destiny. Although I do not condone teen pregnancy, I do support having a plan in an unfortunate situation which is the world we curently live in. Heck, i've been in a relationship for 6 years with no children yet and I have a dream. Id love to have kids..lots..of all races..a rainbow of children that are all half me(african american) Whether their biological fathers are included or not, I have and will continue to grow such a support network that we will all support eachother. Big Mamma's House is what its called..ya think there will be crazy news stories on that once some "moral leader" catches wind of me. In one breath, I hope not because there are 10k more important things people need to know on the news. However, in the next breath, I wouldn't mind being one to show people that there is another way.

Sent by Hawa | 4:39 PM | 6-26-2008

Not that the parents don't have play a part in the whole mess, but really! I'd like to find a parent anywhere that raised the perfect child. Some children make worse mistakes than others but there are NO perfect children. And are you referring to the parents of both the girls and the boys? Taking a line from your post, looks like the "right and wrong" needs to be taught to all of these kids.

Sent by Cathi Thorpe | 7:49 PM | 6-26-2008

I agree with some of the other bloggers. Young children don't understand the responsibilities that come with parenthood. Yes, we all know babies are beautiful, but they grow up and need things YOU are as a parent need to give them! Babies are not all fun and games.

Sent by V | 1:51 AM | 6-27-2008

I had a planned teenage pregnancy and I know it had to do with the fact that my best friend got pregnant at 16 years of age. She had a plan to get on welfare, to get low-income housing, and to move out of her parent's house. I had friends that did the same, so I followed suit. Many of us did get assistance from the government, but many of my friends got stuck in that low-income life style because there was no real plan afterwards. I had my daughter when I was 18 years old (pregnant at 17) and the struggle afterwards was difficult. I am 40 years old now and educated, but I can tell you I did it backwards. I love my daughter. She is a jewel. What people fail to take into consideration too is what this lifestyle does to the child. It was painful for my daughter being raised without a father in the home and in the long run I hated being just another statistic

Sent by Coletha Browning | 2:18 AM | 6-27-2008

It seems very simple to me; the citizens of Gloucester brought this embarassment upon themselves by deciding not to provide their children with the sex education they need in order to make wise decisions about sexual activity. If they are incensed that the country has focused on this incident, they have no one to blame but their own backwardsness.

As for the girls who are pregnant, I'm impressed by their tenacity and desire to make the best of a bad situation. I certainly don't buy into the hysterical nonsense that a movie made them want to do this.

Sent by Kasreyn | 8:59 AM | 6-30-2008

It saddens me to see someone admit that they got pregnant as a teenager on purpose to get on welfare. That right there is the best argument to get rid of that system. Shame on you! There are people out there who really need it.

Sent by Scott Vetter | 11:00 AM | 7-1-2008

There is hardly a more powerful human experience of intimacy than that of the mother-child bond. Can many of these teens be unconsciously searching for the unequivocal love a child has for its mother? At the center of the teen pregnancy problem is a hole of self deception that having a baby can fill the void of disconnectedness to a significant adult.

Sent by Jenny Ankenbauer | 8:22 AM | 7-8-2008