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Pregnancy Pact - Teenage Folly in its Purest Form

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Centuries ago, becoming a mother at as young as thirteen was not uncommon. Teen parenting was encouraged and accepted. As society has evolved, so has many views regarding families. A more modern, education and technology based lifestyle promotes waiting to reproduce, concentrating on self-establishment before embracing paternal instincts. However, teen pregnancy rates are up a surprising amount, causing people everywhere to look for reasons. How is it that, in a country where college is a goal for most, where mandatory health classes stress the difficulties of parenting, where contraception is increasingly easy to obtain, high school girls (and some younger!) find their stomachs growing for 9 and a half months?


In 2008, Gloucester High in Massachusetts experienced an incredible pregnancy boom. With a total student population of 1,200, seventeen girls pregnant is an outrageous number. The amount had quadrupled since the previous year, calling for a closer look at the mothers-to-be in a hope to find clarity. Why the sharp increase? As administration investigated the situation, new information came to light. Principal Joseph Sullivan announced the existence of a pregnancy pact. Several girls had come together and forged an agreement to all become pregnant, holding idealistic views about raising their children together. To outsiders this concept seems idiotic, an irresponsible aim with questionable motivation. Where has the appeal of teen pregnancy stemmed from? While the girls and their families refused interviews, others have spoken on the issue.

Peer pressure first jumps to mind when searching for reasoning. Some girls attending Gloucester High told reporters they believed it to be the cause. The phrase is often applied to frowned upon activities and seemingly places blame on the majority, not the individual. Many make the mistake of accepting peer pressure as a simple explanation. However, it encompasses too many elements that to truly understand the basis of a problem, one needs to break it apart. In the case of Gloucester High’s pregnancy pact, both media and acceptance fall within peer pressure borders.

Media is a powerful medium in culture today. We are surrounded by books, movies, TV shows, advertisements, and so on. Its influence is virtually inescapable in our modern world. What we see and hear affects our thought processes and views, whether we know it or not. Recently, the media has experienced a shift towards a more positive take on teen pregnancy. Movies have created a feel of nonchalance with pregnancy that is unrealistic and dangerous for easily impacted young minds. Knocked Up and Juno both did extremely well, which is worrying considering the subject matter. Juno in particular portrays the situation casually, leaning towards easy more than tiring, difficult, problematic or scary. Not only are fictional scenarios influencing youth, but celebrities’ lives are as well. Britney Spears’ younger sister, Jamie Lynn, became pregnant at 16 in 2007. Her and her belly were featured in every magazine and gossip show for a year. This is where copycat effect comes into play. Not only is the media shaping minds, but also creating something to mimic. Copycat syndrome is often seen with suicide. One death will cause a chain reaction to occur. In this case, glamorization of teen pregnancy and poor role model choices contributed to the pregnancy spike.

Social acceptance is of paramount importance in the high school environment. A mindset has evolved that measures worth by approval of others, and too many fall into this way of thinking. Happiness relies on friends and feelings of belonging. Most teenagers crave closeness and familiarity, some sense of camaraderie. This is how pacts are born. Isolated teens desperately seek something to bind them together and gain approval from peers.

This isolation of the girls involved may have stemmed from economic trouble. Gloucester has struggled the past few years, the recession hitting the fishing town hard. The struggle has resulted in family problems and left many broken. Children and teens in these families are directionless and experience feelings of aloneness. One girl remarked the pact members just “wanted someone to love them unconditionally”. Lack of attention from loved ones triggers the copycat syndrome and forces one to seek attention elsewhere.

While the reasoning is valid and understandable, their actions are foolish and inexcusable. Unless you have led an extremely sheltered life, by sixteen you should have a fairly accurate idea of what raising a child is like. Financially it is irresponsible and moronic. Pregnancy complicates schooling and severely limits future possibilities, in most cases. Poor judgment and stupidity combined with the aforementioned factors are what resulted in the formation of a pregnancy pact.

Teen pregnancy deserves a seriousness it seems to lack nowadays. Somehow girls slip through the cracks of health classes and common sense, producing babies they cannot hope to be prepared for. While motivation is found in several areas, the real problem lies with the girls themselves. They hold romanticized ideas of having children and a misconception that a baby is a quick fix solution to problems. Society needs to do a more effective job of opening its youth’s eyes to reality.




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sunnyhunny This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm:
Great job.  I totally get what you mean.  The last paragraph really summed everything up and made a final impact.
 
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