Because rainy weather makes me post sad stuff.

Wow. Just… wow. This is some quite messed up situation here.

Here’s the cliff notes version: A bunch of teenage girls in Gloucester High (in MA) made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. So far, 17 are pregnant. They received the news with high-fives, and girls who got a negative for their pregnancy test were saddened.

These girl live in coastal Massachusetts, on a town largely dependent on fishing that has been hit hard in the past decade, economically, with lots of job losses. Now why do I mention this bit of context? Well, this is the part that really just punched me in the gut when I read the article:

But Amanda Ireland, who graduated from Gloucester High on June 8, thinks she knows why these girls wanted to get pregnant. Ireland, 18, gave birth her freshman year and says some of her now pregnant schoolmates regularly approached her in the hall, remarking how lucky she was to have a baby. “They’re so excited to finally have someone to love them unconditionally,” Ireland says. “I try to explain it’s hard to feel loved when an infant is screaming to be fed at 3 a.m.”

Towards the end it mentions talk in the town about making contraceptives more widely available and other family planning initiatives. And while I’m all for that, I really don’t think that’s going to help in this particular case. The girls didn’t get pregnant by mistake, they actively sought getting pregnant.

I’m afraid this is more a case of deep psychological issues. I honestly can’t imagine what it’s like to feeling so hopeless and lonely that I’d think of getting pregnant in highschool just to have some inconditional-loving being around me to get through life. Not to mention the rather disturbing idea of babies as nothing but little happy pills.

Of course, without a better understanding of the girls’ lives, it’s entirely unfair to argue that it is solely due to their local circumstances. After all, this is not the only town hit by hardship in the country. In any case, whatever reasons led these girls to such a messed up state of mind to make that decision, it is really fucking sad that it’s happening.

Oh, I forgot to mention; one of the fathers is a 24 year old homeless guy.

*Via Ezra Klein.

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8 Responses

  1. This whole “pact” thing may very well be utter bullshit. So far, it seems the principal is the one who told Time that it was said, and no one else is aware of it. He’s not around to comment and let anyone know what or who gave him the impression that there was someone going around saying “OH HAY, LET’S ALL GET PREGGERS IT’LL BE KEWL.”

    NG is from Gloucester, and from what she’s said, the the town is extremely pissed off at the principal – current feeling in-town is, he was looking for something to say to get his 15 minutes of fame with Time and that sounded controversial enough for the reporter to bite.

    From what NG’s heard, upon realizing they were pregnant at the same time, the girls agreed to raise their kids together. But that suggestion came about after they were pregnant, not before.

    Yes, these girls are in tough situations, and life’s about to get a hell of a lot harder for them. But one thing Time neglects to point out (aside from a remark about strollers in the halls), is that these girls are staying in school – rather than having to withdraw from society and hang their heads in shame, they have access to day care so they can concentrate on their studies and graduate.

    There’s a very well-written editorial in the Gloucester Daily Times about this coverage that shows what kind of a circus it’s become.

  2. Oh! Thanks a whole bunch for pointing this out! I’ll check it out. I meant to ask you if you’d heard any of this, being in MA. I’ll certainly check out the links.

    Ah, lovely serious journalists getting to the bottom of things!

    This may turn out to be even sadder. Double damn.

  3. A little more from today’s Boston Globe:

    “Any planned, blood-oath bond to become pregnant, there is absolutely no evidence of,” said Mayor Carolyn Kirk. She said that school officials had pressed the principal, Joseph Sullivan, to explain his statement to Time magazine about a pact, but came away frustrated that he had no evidence.

    “He was foggy in his memory of how he heard about the information,” Kirk said. “When we pressed him for specifics, about who told him, when was he told, his memory failed.”

    And now, of course, we’re pointing fingers at Jamie Lynn Spears and Juno, for glamourizing teen pregnancy rather than looking at the lack of sex education (one health class, freshman year) and the decision to make contraception unavailable at the school. The kids are having sex anyway. Keeping condoms out of their reach doesn’t make them abstinent.

    Pardon me while I go froth at the mouth a bit.

  4. My understanding so far is that while the “pact” was utter horseshit (probably of the it’s not my fault! kind, with a dash of mediawhoring), the reports of girls being -happy- about getting pregnant are still held as true. That, I think, is the part that saddens me the most.

    The whole “it’s Hollywood’s fault! Think of the childrenz!” shit is, as in most cases, ridiculous. Again, I’m not familiar enough with this story to feel comfortable trying to guess what the actual cause of this stuff is.

    I am not sure if contraception availability would’ve done anything, as the girls seem to have actively tried getting pregnant, maybe SexEd could’ve done something to drive the point that pregnancy is not a trivial thing. Not that they shouldn’t improve in those regards at all! Just that right now I’m leaning more towards “those girls have a ridiculously warped perspective of life,”

    I read the reaction of city officials as passing the buck. I mean, yeah. The “pact” shit made the tabloids of the world itch with greed, but even without it. A more carefully reported story of 17 HS girls getting pregnant and being ecstatic about it would definitely make national news. And it -is- a pretty big problem, I’d say.

    Too bad the focus seems to be in all the wrong places. It’s like a sadness thunderstorm.

  5. I think even the part about them being ecstatic is hearsay at this point. They can’t get a comment out of the principal, and they can’t get a comment out of the nurse who initially claimed these girls went “Squee!” when they were told they were pregnant.

    And, y’know? Maybe if one of the girls, or even several, did seem happy, it was relief at finally knowing, one way or another. Or maybe they had that split second choice of whether to be positive about it or fall the fuck apart, and they decided better to laugh than cry. I’m not saying that there weren’t any girls who actively tried to get pregnant, or that there weren’t any who were happy about it. But after the whole pact thing turning out to be bullshit, I’m disinclined to believe any accounts that don’t come from the girls themselves.

    I just think it’s way too early to say that the girls have a warped perspective when none of them have even been interviewed yet. We don’t know what they were thinking, aside from what some adults who probably barely even know them have claimed, and that’s all coming in to question.

    Okay, one of them has been interviewed, and I kind of love her: http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/16692720/detail.html

  6. So basically, the only certainly truthful part of the whole story is that 17 HS girls are pregnant?

    It appears I seriously need to bring my BS-o-meter for a tune-up. This is getting embarrassing.

  7. It’s okay, I forgive you.

    I have a feeling there are a lot of people in the media /facepalming right now, but I also have a feeling we’re not going to see very many retractions. Or, those who do retract their statements will all point at someone else and say it’s not their publication’s fault that they didn’t check facts- blame that guy over there, whose soundbite was inaccurate.

    Because god forbid any journalists or editors check their own gorram facts these days.

    The funny thing about this is, I’m usually Really Not a Fan of high-school aged girls (because my gawd, they can be mean sometimes. And yes, I was occasionally a victim of that meanness in junior high, but not so much in high school. I am aware of from whence my general dislike comes and how unfair it is.) And yet… I find myself really wanting to, I don’t know, defend these girls somehow – even if it’s just sticking up for them and linkspamming a friend’s blog (<3).

    It’s probably because if there’s one thing that I’m Really Not a Fan of even more, it’s when the media goes into a frenzy and otherwise responsible journalists throw credibility out the window in pursuit of scandal. We trust reporters to bring us the truth. I know, I know, after the last eight years of political reporting, I shouldn’t be surprised by the shoddy reporting here at all, but god damn, this one got under my skin.

  8. Well, it does have the holy media trifecta of “SCANDAL!”
    1) Young Girls having sex
    2) People finding themselves in unfortunate circumstances
    3) Wiminz acting (or being portrayed as) unreasonably.

    Funny you mention that, I was thinking of writing a “Now that my jumping-to-conclusions-while-believing-reporters-actually-know-how-to-do-their-jobs stupidity is taking a nap, here’s a recount of what has happened and not happened regarding the Gloucester Girls” post. I’ll probably get to it in a couple days, I’m hoping more actual information will keep coming out.

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