Teen “Pregnancy Pact”: The Perfect Storm?
The shocking news from the small fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts spread across the country and around the world: 17 girls from one high school were pregnant, part of a supposed ‘pregnancy pact’ in which the students intentionally set out to become teen mothers, with a vow to raise their babies together. It wasn’t the first time Gloucester made international headlines. The tragic 1991 loss at sea of a Gloucester fishing boat and its crew prompted the book and the movie “The Perfect Storm.” Now a tidal wave of finger-pointing about whom or what was responsible for so many pregnancies tipped toward a “perfect storm” of outside influences. Some blamed Gloucester’s depressed local economy and the demise of its once-thriving fishing industry. Others indicted so-called broken families and directionless youth. Gloucester High, it was suggested, had brought the predicament on itself, by providing easily accessible on-campus day care for the babies of student mothers. And Hollywood shouldered its share of responsibility—the movie “Juno” was blamed for glamorizing unwed teen motherhood, and the media’s obsession with pregnant celebs having babies as “accessories” was called out as well. But soon cracks began to appear in the cultural blame game. A reproductive specialist noted that the pregnancy trend at Gloucester High began before “Juno” hit the theaters. Gloucester’s mayor said the pregnancy rate was a statistical “blip” and rued the lack of health education funding. And the School Superintendent stated that he’d never heard the term “pact” used by the students, only by the media. After days of silence, one of the girls finally appeared on national television. 17-year-old Lindsey Oliver denied the existence of a pact. “There was a group of girls already pregnant that decided they were going to help each other to finish school and raise their kids together,” she said. “I think it...
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