Teens Pregnant, and Happy, in One Massachusetts School
As reported here at the Babies Online Blog, teen pregnancy rates, nationwide, have dropped between 1990 and 2004. Abortions also dropped by 24 percent during the same time period.
Unfortunately, the optimistic 2004 stats were offset by a preliminary CDC report on 2006 births, which showed an increase in the number of teen pregnancies for the first-time in 14 years. In one Massachusetts school, the news is even more depressing.
In the past year, the teen pregnancy rate at Gloucester High School has more than quadrupled, with 17 young women pregnant. Time Magazine reported on this startling trend in the lower-income New England fishing town.
In the article, the school’s principal explained that several students requested multiple pregnancy tests, and seemed upset, rather than relieved, with a negative result. The epidemic is due, in part, to a ‘pregnancy pact,’ in which several friends under the age of 16 pledged to get pregnant and raise their children together.
When school officials and the high school clinic’s medical director advocated dispensing oral contraceptives without parental consent, however, they faced opposition from many people in the community.
My question: How will birth control pills help stop pregnancy if teenage girls are actually trying to get pregnant?
Perhaps the school should consider expanding their sex education curriculum to include spending 24 hours a day, every day for a week or more, with a colicky infant. I don’t know if this would change the minds of women in their 20s and 30s, who are truly ready to have children (although, having never been in that situation, it might!) But I’m pretty sure this scare tactic could help curb intentional teen pregnancy. If that doesn’t work, perhaps they could force the teens to pay for diapers for a year.