But this is ridiculous:
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.
I’ve heard about this before; girls so desperate for real love they are ready to do just about anything, including jeopardizing their future by having a child WAY too early. Yes, I said jeopardizing.
Look: I’m pro-life (or at least, anti-abortion), which means I prefer women and girls keep their babies even if it means giving them up for adoption. It’s not the babies’ fault their moms goofed, and once they’re conceived and growing, they’re human and as such they deserve a chance. But I would NEVER go so far as suggest a woman or a girl have a baby before she’s ready for that kind of commitment. That’s just crazy.
And here as in so many other cases, I blame the parents. What a wretched job some of them do – come on, people, can’t you see your children are crying for love and attention? Are you too wrapped up in your own selfish concerns to notice?
Tanya adds: One thing that left me torn here was how the high school was handling the rising teen pregnancy rate.
The high school has done perhaps too good a job of embracing young mothers. Sex-ed classes end freshman year at Gloucester, where teen parents are encouraged to take their children to a free on-site day-care center. Strollers mingle seamlessly in school hallways among cheerleaders and junior ROTC. “We’re proud to help the mothers stay in school,” says Sue Todd, CEO of Pathways for Children, which runs the day-care center.”
I’m all for these programs, and yet maybe not. Not to the degree where it would encourage young girls to get pregnant, facing single motherhood, and while still in high school no less.
The flip side of this scenario is kicking girls out of high school if they are pregnant. That’s how poorly they handled it in my day, not so long ago.
Some balance in this area would be essential. Maybe we could start at the University level, since very little is done to accommodate motherhood on Canadian campuses. There’s a great pro-active project for all the campus pro-life groups out there.
Rebecca adds: I share your reservations, Tanya. On the one hand, kicking pregnant girls out of school, or otherwise making it less likely that they’ll finish high school and move on, hardly serves their children, who are already a reality by the time schools find out teens are pregnant. On the other, lessening a taboo lowers the social cost of an act, and the lower the cost, the more people engage in it.
How about a separate school for teenage mothers (and fathers, for that matter, if they are still school age and involved with raising their children)? Such a school could provide daycare on site, to help get young mothers to finish high school (and keep nursing if they do, which is pretty much impossible if the children spend the workweek far from their mothers), and could also provide some guidance about parenting, infant nutrition, and so on. But it would differentiate these young mothers from their classmates, which isn’t entirely a bad thing: like it or not, by becoming mothers, they have left a portion of their childhood behind, and it serves nobody to pretend this isn’t so. And it would perhaps lead fewer of their peers to think that teen motherhood is easy or desireable.