At least 17 students at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, Mass., are pregnant, and the principal said almost half of them had planned ahead and agreed to raise their kids together as part of a pregnancy pact. None of the girls is older than 16. Nationwide, the teen pregnancy rate was up 3 percent in 2006, the first rise in 15 years. (Time) City and school district officials in Gloucester, about 30 miles north of Boston, said they can’t confirm that such a pact exists. (USA Today)
What the commentators said
The Gloucester baby boom should serve as a wake-up call, said Margery Eagan in the Boston Herald. We've gone too far in taking the shame out of teen pregnancy, and totally "destigmatized" it. And a recent string of movies, including "Juno" and "Knocked Up," took another step and depicted unplanned pregnancy as "key to turning your life around."
Maybe Jamie Lynn Spears will be a good cautionary tale, said Susan Konig in National Review Online. After all, at 17, the Britney Spears' younger sister “is now an unemployed, unwed mother.” But if the parents of the Gloucester girls want to find the guilty parties, they shouldn't blame the movies or, as some do, a faltering economy that dims teens' hope for the future. They should look in the mirror.
True, “the parents of these little baby makers need to be slapped . . . HARD,” said Geveryl Robinson in the Savannah Morning News. But “the baby makers and the men—correction—boys they had sex with need to be slapped . . . HARDER.” Then they need to be sent to jail. Statutory rape is “a serious crime,” in Massachusetts and elsewhere, and if they are given a pass, they and other teens will never learn that there are “serious repercussions for their actions.”
“These girls screwed up and their stupidity shouldn’t be excused,” said Steve Booher in the St. Joseph, Mo., News-Press. But that doesn’t mean they should be punished by society. They’ll get punishment enough “in a few months when they have to get up at 2 a.m. to change a dirty diaper and feed a howling infant.”