Damage Control

Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, a fishing town on the North Shore, had 17 pregnancies this year.? Usually they average about four.? The jump in pregnancies is attributed to a group of eight girls who supposedly made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.

Since the story first leaked it’s made Time and been on Good Morning America.

By May, several students had returned multiple times to get pregnancy tests, and on hearing the results, “some girls seemed more upset when they weren’t pregnant than when they were,” [Principal Joseph] Sullivan says. All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Then the story got worse. “We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy,” the principal says, shaking his head.

Now, however, with the national spotlight upon them, many of the adults and authority in this situation are back peddling.?? At first these people were merely “skeptical” of this pact.? And now they are in outright denial.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk plans to meet Monday with school, health and other local officials after Gloucester High School Principal Joseph Sullivan was quoted by Time magazine saying girls made pregnancy pacts.

Kirk said Sullivan has told officials in this hard-luck New England fishing town he can’t remember his source of information.

The thing here is that most of these girls are all Sophomores in high school, so that’s like 15 years old.? It’s not unusual for this to happen, just look at Jamie Lynn Spears, but it’s unfortunate that no one can get to the bottom of what exactly is going on.? The girls in question won’t talk.? The school and town officials are now in cover our asses mode.

And the media is reporting mostly supposition and conjecture.? Is Gloucester a Roman Catholic community that supports teenage motherhood?? Hard to say, but it’s not unlikely.? This also brings up the larger issue of sex education and reproduction health for teenagers.? Hard as it may be to believe but teenagers like having sex or trying to have sex or at the very least trying to “get some.”

It does everyone, especially the teenagers, to put their collective heads in the sand and pretend that abstinence only education works.? You can’t have it both ways.? You can’t have poorly misinformed sex/reproductive education and then act surprised and shocked when young girls start showing up pregnant.

Maybe that’s a rant for another day, but it is related to what’s going on in Gloucester and shouldn’t be ignored.? After all, in the initial Time Magazine story, they attributed the spike in pregnancies to the stagnant fishing economy in the town (um, no), the kids growing up directionless (i.e. where are their parents?), but it only hints at the lack of proper sex education.

Currently Gloucester teens must travel about 20 miles (30 km) to reach the nearest women’s health clinic; younger girls have to get a ride or take the train and walk. But the notion of a school handing out birth control pills has met with hostility. Says Mayor Carolyn Kirk: “Dr. Orr and Ms. Daly have no right to decide this for our children.” The pair resigned in protest on May 30.

Gloucester’s elected school committee plans to vote later this summer on whether to provide contraceptives. But that won’t do much to solve the issue of teens wanting to get pregnant. Says rising junior Kacia Lowe, who is a classmate of the pactmakers’: “No one’s offered them a better option.” And better options may be a tall order in a city so uncertain of its future.

Strange, that the kids would view pregnancy as their best option.? Wonder what would give them that impression.? Anyone got a theory as to what’s going on or know anything?

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