Pregnancy Boom at Gloucester High

As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies—more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers. But principal Joseph Sullivan knows at least part of the reason there’s been such a spike in teen pregnancies in this Massachusetts fishing town. School officials started looking into the matter as early as October after an unusual number of girls began filing into the school clinic to find out if they were pregnant. 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,” 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.

The question of what to do next has divided this fiercely Catholic enclave. Even with national data showing a 3% rise in teen pregnancies in 2006—the first increase in 15 years—Gloucester isn’t sure it wants to provide easier access to birth control. In any case, many residents worry that the problem goes much deeper. The past decade has been difficult for this mostly white, mostly blue-collar city (pop. 30,000). In Gloucester, perched on scenic Cape Ann, the economy has always depended on a strong fishing industry. But in recent years, such jobs have all but disappeared overseas, and with them much of the community’s wherewithal. “Families are broken,” says school superintendent Christopher Farmer. “Many of our young people are growing up directionless.”

But by May, after nurse practitioner Kim Daly had administered some 150 pregnancy tests at Gloucester High’s student clinic, she and the clinic’s medical director, Dr. Brian Orr, a local pediatrician, began to advocate prescribing contraceptives regardless of parental consent, a practice at about 15 public high schools in Massachusetts. 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.,8599,1815845,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

While I was teaching at a public high school I worked with a number of pregnant teens and teen fathers. In my experience, several of the teens did not need or want more access to b.c. They understood how to use it and were either on it and it failed or were choosing not to use it. Some had already had previous abortions and gotten pregnant again. I believe deep-seated psychological needs were motivating their behaviors. I even had one girl tell me she was waiting until 18 to get pregnant, but she was looking forward to it b/c then she’d always have someone to love her. :frowning: We have to find a way to convince these kids that they are valuable and address their emotional needs instead of just handing out b.c.

I read this earlier. In the article it stated that two top public health officials resigned over Birth Control Distribution.

But these girls wanted to become pregnant. I’m a HS teacher - you would be suprised (or maybe not) at the number of girls that are happy with being pregnant.

I was dismayed to see that this story has been turned into a political statement about “earlier” access to birth control by the media. As already stated by others, access to birth control would not have made a difference in this case. These girls intended to become pregnant. It doesn’t help when “celebrities” like Jamie Lynn Spears glamorize teen pregnancy.

Well I guess we should be happy that thay are not killing the babys. :shrug:

Agreed. :thumbsup: It’s sad that they intentionally conceived these babies out of wedlock thought.

What’s remarkable to me is the double-think in this whole thing as it’s being portrayed in the media (I heard a long piece on the issue on NPR yesterday). The story implies that, had the girls been given education about and access to birth control, they wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. But…they all chose to get pregnant, right? They know how it’s done (obviously) and they decided to do it. This isn’t a matter of ignorance, it’s a matter of will.

When I was in my first year as a teacher at an urban high school in Boston, one of my juniors got pregnant. Her mother said to her, “Why are you bothering going to school? You’re just going to have babies like I did.”

No condom in the world is going to protect a young person from that disease.

Here is another story that blames Abstinence programs, and George Bush for good measure or course. I really cannot believe there are those who will use this as an argument against Abstinence Only sex ed. If you want to make a good apology against something, please use examples that actually are applicable. It just makes one sound like they are reaching. The problem here is not about methodology to teach prevention of pregnancy and disease. They wanted to get pregnant.

The issue on the table here is something else. One may be the naivety of those who do not understand the sacrifice needed. Another is the need to feel loved. Granted, those two still seem superficial to me; I think that there are more fundamental issues.

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