Many people have now heard the story of the teenagers in Gloucester, MA who made a pact with one another to get pregnant and raise their children together. There’s a lot of judgment surrounding this situation and these girls, and people have been labeling them as stupid, incompetent, and a myriad of other things. One of the things I found most interested in the article I first read, published in Time Magazine, was that the girls felt they “had no other choice.”
For those not familiar with Gloucester, it’s a fishing town that has been hit hard by various economic situations in the past few years. To a teenager, looking around Gloucester at what they perceive to be their future, there don’t appear to be many options. They see other women marrying young, having children young, and not having a support network. I’m not saying it was a well informed decision to all get pregnant, but deciding together to get pregnant and form that support network was probably viewed by the girls as a way to secure help from friends and a network of support.
So, who is really at fault here? The girls hold responsibility for their actions, but who is at fault for not letting them know that there are other choices? Gloucester High has a sex ed program focused almost entirely on abstinence. These girls intentionally got pregnant, but the fact remains that they saw their other friends, family, and members of their community getting pregnant early and for many of them, it may not have been intentional.
Many people will say that a child is not the end of your education. However, for many, it can be. Raising a child is expensive. Going to college is expensive. The two are often, though not always, incompatible. Providing good, quality sex education that focuses on pregnancy prevention beyond abstinence can allow girls to take charge of their reproductive health, not get pregnant in or immediatly after high school, and perhaps see that there is more out there than motherhood.
If you’d like to read the Time Magazine article, click here.